October 8, 2000
Even what many in Israel viewed as the government’s cowardly retreat from
Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem early this morning turned into a farce when the
Palestinian Authority proved unable – or unwilling – to keep its end of the agreement.
PA security men were no match for the mob of Arabs who ransacked
the holy site – which served as a yeshiva for over 20 years until this past
week – then burnt it down, and even took apart the stone dome marking the
grave of the Biblical Joseph.
Even Oslo Architect Shimon Peres reacted with
some criticism for Arafat tonight. Peres said,
“The Palestinians made a
terrible mistake in Joseph’s Tomb. They pulled the rug out from under their
feet regarding their demand for control of the holy places, by showing that
they don’t know how to preserve and respect them.”
During the Israeli retreat from the holy spot that PLO gunners had targeted
for the past week – and where an Israeli soldier died of his wounds several
days ago – one Border Guard policeman was shot in the face, and was wounded
moderately. The retreating soldiers removed all holy items, including Torah
scrolls, prayer books, and Jewish texts, before surrendering the site to the PLO.
It marked the first time that Israel had evacuated its forces from Yesha in
the face of Palestinian violence. Barak and other top officials implied that
the evacuation was only “temporary.”