A 4,000 year-old city named Shechem or Nablus is nestled in the mountain of Samaria. Joseph, the son of Jacob, was buried in Shechem. According to the Book of Joshua (24:32): “The bones of Joseph which the Children of Israel brought up from Egypt were buried in Shechem in the portion of the field that had been purchased by Jacob.” Joseph’s Tomb is also mentioned in ancient Jewish texts and in the writings of historians throughout the ages.
Following Israel’s victory in the Six Day War, Israel regained control over Joseph’s Tomb. In 1995, Israel handed over control of Shechem to the Palestinian Authority but retained control over Joseph’s Tomb. However, in October 2000, after violence broke out around the tomb, Israeli forces withdrew and the Palestinians gained full control over the area. Unfortunately, a Palestinian mob damaged and desecrated the tomb and attempted to build a mosque over it.
While Israelis do not have regular access to Joseph’s Tomb, on certain occasions Israelis are permitted to visit the tomb but only accompanied by intense IDF protection. Israelis who visit have reported that the holy site is repeatedly the target of vandalism.