RAMALLAH, June 1 (JMCC) - Jewish worshipers are increasing in numbers in monthly arranged visits to a holy site in the major Palestinian city of Nablus
, reports the Associated Press.
In the visits to Joseph's Tomb, the Israeli military escorts hundreds of Israelis inside an area under Palestinian security control.
Just after midnight Monday, convoys of buses carrying 1,600 Jewish worshippers began driving into Nablus in waves for prayers at Joseph’s Tomb. Escorted by olive-drab army jeeps and dozens of ground troops, it was the biggest group to reach the site since the military began regularly allowing visits four years ago.
The lead bus was crammed with ultra-Orthodox Jews in long black coats and settler teens in jeans and T-shirts.
When the buses finally moved into Nablus, Israeli soldiers in battle gear were visible securing the route, standing by closed shops and clumped beside a Bank of Palestine ATM.
Organizers, members of the hard core of Israel’s settlement movement, see the visits to the traditional gravesite of the biblical Joseph as a mix of religious duty, assertion of ownership, and show of force. For many observant Jews, Nablus is part of the biblical land promised to the Jews by God.
Some groups try to enter the city without the military escort.
In April, a member of the Palestinian security shot and killed an Israeli who had entered the city to visit the holy site without coordinating with Palestinian officials.