A vociferous public dedication of a Torah scroll at a yeshiva in the West Bank city of Nablus passed without incident Thursday.
The Israel Defense Force clamped a daylong curfew on the 120,000 Palestinians in Nablus and three adjacent refugee camps, to prevent any clashes from occurring while 150 Orthodox Jews and many right-wing Knesset members attended the religious ceremony.
The Torah was dedicated at the Od Yosef Hai (“Joseph Still Lives”) Yeshiva, which is at the site of Joseph’s Tomb, a shrine holy to Moslems and Jews alike.
The IDF also cordoned off a group of 20 Peace Now demonstrators, who protested what they charged was a deliberately provocative act.
The singing and dancing celebrants included Knesset Speaker Dov Shilansky of Likud; Tzahi Hanegbi, one of Likud’s more militant hard-liners; Elyakim Haetzni of the Tehiya party; and Rehavam Ze’evi, leader of the Moledet faction, which advocates the deportation of Palestinians as part of a negotiated peace settlements.
Haetzni accused the Peace Now contingent of aggravating “the terrible rift in our society” by their presence.
Dedi Zucker, Knesset member for the dovish Citizens Rights Movement, accused the IDF of allowing more than 100 celebrants, the number originally permitted by the Defense Ministry to attend the ceremony.
The High Court of Justice limited the number of protesters to 20, to which Peace Now scrupulously adhered, Zucker observed.
Nablus is the largest Arab town in the West Bank and a main source of the 28-month-old Palestinian uprising.
The yeshiva at Joseph’s Tomb functions only in daylight hours, in compliance with longstanding orders by the IDF.
It is now reportedly petitioning the government for permission to build dormitories and a kitchen at the site.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.