One worshipper murdered, 4 injured, at Yosef’s tomb in Shechem

Evacuating Breslav chasidim from Kever Yosef

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.



Israel Matzav, Treppenwitz, and Jameel at The Muqata have more on this incident and interesting opinions about the background.

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5 Responses to One worshipper murdered, 4 injured, at Yosef’s tomb in Shechem

  1. joem says:

    And again.

    Also, I think you failed to mention an important point, mentioned in the article I just linked:

    The defunct Oslo Accords provided for open access to Jews to the site and for the presence of the IDF. The government eventually pulled its forces out of the area, after a Palestinian siege that left one IDF soldier dead from loss of blood. It left Kever Yosef under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

    Also, Ynet had a fascinating article in their “magazine” section (with video – including Ben-Yosef Livnat HY”D) from the last visit of this group of Breslovers before the fatal shooting.

    • anneinpt says:

      Good catch joem. That article is indeed fascinating, and the accompanying video is pretty hair-raising.

      But until Israel takes back proper and full control of Kever Yosef, as is its right under the Oslo agreements (as you quote above) I still have my doubts about the wisdom of so openly provoking the terrorists – even if it is within our rights to visit the kever, one also has to take care of ונשמרתם מאד לנפשותיכם – “and you shall be careful with your lives”. Of course, as I said in my post, that doesn’t excuse the murder, obviously.

      :sigh: … nothing is straightforward in this neigbourhood.

      Meanwhile Daled Amos brought an item from Israel Matzav’s archive about General Dayton presciently warning that the Palestinian Police Force, ostensibly trained to fight local crime, was liable to turn into a Palestinian Army and fight against Israel. Of course, anyone with eyes in their head could have foreseen this outcome, but no one would listen to warnings from the right-wing at the time.

      • joem says:

        Until I saw that video, I thought that the “uncoordinated visits” had some tacit approval – or at least acceptance – not these cat-and-mouse games with the “Palestinian Authority” “police”. I would agree that ונשמרתם מאד לנפשותיכם should apply here. The interesting thing is, the one time that the gemara itself (sort of) applies the principle is in the following story in Berachos 32b-33a:

        ת”ר מעשה בחסיד אחד שהיה מתפלל בדרך בא שר אחד ונתן לו שלום ולא החזיר לו שלום המתין לו עד שסיים תפלתו לאחר שסיים תפלתו א”ל ריקא והלא כתוב בתורתכם (דברים ד) רק השמר לך ושמור נפשך וכתיב (דברים ד) ונשמרתם מאד לנפשותיכם כשנתתי לך שלום למה לא החזרת לי שלום אם הייתי חותך ראשך בסייף מי היה תובע את דמך מידי א”ל המתן לי עד שאפייסך בדברים א”ל אילו היית עומד לפני מלך בשר ודם ובא חברך ונתן לך שלום היית מחזיר לו א”ל לאו ואם היית מחזיר לו מה היו עושים לך א”ל היו חותכים את ראשי בסייף א”ל והלא דברים ק”ו ומה אתה שהיית עומד לפני מלך בשר ודם שהיום כאן ומחר בקבר כך אני שהייתי עומד לפני מלך מלכי המלכים הקב”ה שהוא חי וקיים לעד ולעולמי עולמים על אחת כמה וכמה מיד נתפייס אותו השר ונפטר אותו חסיד לביתו לשלוםThe Beraisa taught: once there was a Chassid who was davening on the road. An officer came and greeted him; he didn’t answer. When he had finished his tefilla, the officer said “Empty one! Does it not say in your Torah rak hishamer lecha u’shmor nafshecha and v’nishmartem me’od l’nafshoteichem?! By rights, I could have cut off your head with my sword!” The chassid answered, “If I had been standing before a mortal king, would you have expected me to interrupt my conversation to answer you? How much more so before the King of Kings?” The officer was appeased and let him go on his way in peace.

        I’m not sure exactly how that story applies here, but perhaps that was how these Breslover chasidim felt..

  2. anneinpt says:

    I’m not sure exactly how that story applies here, but perhaps that was how these Breslover chasidim felt..

    If you listen to the voices in the video that you posted in comment #1, it appears that one of their motivations is simply to scare the Arabs. “That’s our revenge” the speaker says, several times. He enjoyed seeing 3 Arabs at the side of the road duck when their car appeared, he said that is the reason they drove through Awarta on their way back from Shechem – pure revenge against the town whose residents slaughtered the Fogel family Hy”d.

    With all due respect, they need their collective heads examining. There is such a musag (concept) as ייהרג ובל יעבור – mitzvot that one must choose martyrdom over breaking them. That certainly does not apply to davening at Kever Yosef or driving unarmed through a hostile Arab village.

    Revenge might make them feel momentarily better – who doesn’t enjoy schadenfreude? But to endanger their lives and the lives of the IDF soldiers who might have to come to their rescue?!

    I have a lot of empathy for Breslavers, they bring great joy to their surroundings and do a wonderful job of spreading Torah and simcha. But in this case, with all their best intentions… well, you know where good intentions lead.

    • joem says:

      I watched the video without sound the first time, so I didn’t hear the “That’s our revenge” line. I agree that davening at Kever Yosef definitely does not live up to the ye’hareg v’al ya’avor category – especially if “revenge” is part of the motivation. As for entering Awarta, from reading the Ynet article itself, I thought perhaps they were visiting other kevarim:

      On our way to Jerusalem we passed by the Palestinian town of Awarta, where the Fogel family killers came from. We entered. It turned out this is where Aaron’s sons, Ithamar and Eleazar, are buried as well as the seventy Elders.

      Apparently I was wrong about that.

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