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Joseph's Tomb Photo: GPO
Joseph's Tomb Photo: GPO
 
 

Jurisdiction over Joseph's Tomb disputed

Military enraged by judicial system's continuous release of those arrested for illegally entering Joseph's Tomb compound in Nablus on grounds of lack of jurisdiction. 'Someone is going to end up getting killed,' warns IDF

Efrat Weiss
Published: 02.06.08, 12:49 / Israel News

The IDF's Judea and Samaria Division is furious at what they call "Israel's inability to enforce the law due to judicial ping-pong," referring to the circular arrests of Breslov hassidim who enter Joseph's Tomb and their release by the courts, which cite they have no jurisdiction over the matter.

 

Located in the West Bank city of Nablus, Israelis are prohibited from entering Joseph's Tomb, unless sanctioned – and accompanied – by IDF forces.

 

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The last three months, however, have seen Breslov hassidim and right-wing activists enter the compound repeatedly, two-to-three times a week.

 

IDF forces arrest those who enter the tomb and the police ask the Israeli civilian courts to remand them to custody. The courts usually decline, citing such cases should be heard by their military counterparts – but those have no jurisdiction over civilians.

 

At the end of the day, those who "infiltrate" Joseph's Tomb, are released – and knowing they will be released if re-arrested – repeat their actions and endanger the lives of the soldiers stationed in the area.

 

'A real risk'

"If this 'infiltration' doesn't stop there is a real risk someone might get killed, God forbid," a source in the Judea and Samaria Division told Ynet.

 

Military sources blame the rabbis, who sanction the repeated entry to the compound. The IDF itself has increased its entry permits to seven a year.

 

The IDF is forbidden from implementing its routine arrest procedures in such cases, and is further forbidden from chasing the hassidim out of the compound, for fear they might escape into Nablus.

 

"We are trying to reach an understanding with the military, which will allow for regular, more frequent, entries to the tomb," the Samaria residents' council told Ynet.

 

"If we can't reach an understanding, people will just keep entering in as they do now. Nothing is stopping them from doing so… entering Joseph's Tomb doesn't harm the people of Israel, it protects them."

 

Ten people entered the compound Monday night and seven were arrested by IDF forces. "We enter the tomb to protect it… the Palestinians desecrate it time and again – it is a sin which plagues Israel," said the hassidim.

 

Sources in the judicial system told Ynet that the Israeli courts "have the jurisdiction to try Israeli citizens who committed criminal acts in Judea and Samaria," and have done so in the past.

 

The Tel Aviv District Court is expected to rule on the State's appeal of the Magistrates' Court's release of several people who entered Joseph's Tomb, next Monday.

 

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