Early this morning (Sunday, erev the last day of Pesach), a group of Breslav chasidim went to daven at Kever Yosef in Shechem. Trouble began already on their way in to Shechem when they encountered spikes in the road blocking their way, and when the Chasidim removed the spikes, Palestinian police started firing in the air. Apparently two other vehicles turned around and returned to their point of origin, but the 3rd vehicle continued up to the kever. The chasidim jumped out, said their prayers, and were on their way out when they came under a hail of fire. One man, Ben Yosef Livnat (a nephew of Minister Limor Livnat) was killed, leaving a wife and 4 children; and another 4 people were seriously hurt.
The group, comprising of Breslov Hassisim, was reportedly traveling in a three-car convoy. Initial details suggest that while driving back from prayers, around 6 am, they came across a flash checkpoint and then came under fire shot at them from a Palestinian jeep. The fire continued even after the vehicles began to escape. Two of the three Israeli cars sustained gunfire damage.
Leaving aside the probability that the chasidim travelled to Kever Yosef without official permission or coordination with the IDF, it is an utter outrage that a group of unarmed worshippers, with whom the Palestinians are familiar from constant similar monthly trips, should be fired upon without any provocation, and certainly when they were already leaving the site.
The official IDF version (astonishingly) for the moment is that this was not a “terror incident” but a “security incident”. Forgive me if I find it hard to tell the difference. Or is it simply that in a security incident the terrorist wears a uniform?
Returning to the subject of worshippers needing permission and coordination in order to visit Kever Yosef and pray there, certainly there is an issue of – like Israel’s famous road safety ad says – “Don’t be right. Be smart”. It is possible that had the chasidim properly coordinated their visit with the IDF and PA, this incident might never have happened. However even our leftist Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, has declared that lack of coordination does not justify this murder which he thoroughly condemns.
This brings me back to my first issue which is: why is it that Jews need to coordinate with Muslims in order to pray at our holiest sites? And assuming we accept the facts on the ground, that the PA is in charge in Shechem and coordination is needed, why are permits issued only once a month, causing a huge backlog, to the extent that some people give up waiting and sneak in to daven on the quiet in the middle of the night? After all, Muslims are permitted to visit and pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque every single Friday, and G-d help (literally) any Jews who, after finally gaining permission to visit Judaism’s holiest shrine, are caught even moving their lips in prayer on the Temple Mount. They will immediately be arrested by the Palestinian police and prosecuted with the full force of the law. And the UN will never let us hear the end of it, not to mention Israel’s “loyal” leftists who never met a Jewish custom they didn’t hate.
Why is the law of reciprocity not invoked and enforced in this whole agenda of worship at holy sites? If Muslims can pray every Friday at al-Aqsa, even if they need permits, then Jews should be allowed to pray weekly at Kever Yosef.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians are acting out their usual “uncontrollable rage” (h/t Latma TV) and are setting about “putting things to right” by… burning the site down of course.