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IDF estimates Tomb of the Patriarchs elevator within six months

CM 09/08/2021 3

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The first ever elevator to the King Herod era structure that houses the ancient Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron will be completed within six months, the IDF estimated on Monday.
After a long delay, work had begun on the project to make the biblical site wheelchair accessible for the first time, the Defense Ministry said.
“Yesterday [Sunday], work began on making the Tomb of the Patriarchs accessible,” it said in a statement.
Yamina MK Shirley Pinto welcomed the move.
“As someone who has been among the leaders of the [initiative], I hope this [project] will shine a spotlight on the need for more places to be accessible for people with disabilities,” she tweeted.

Hebron Jewish community spokesperson Noam Arnon said that the news was a “positive step” for those with disabilities but added that he was not yet popping champaign. This project has taken an unnecessarily long time, he said, adding that “I fear there will be additional delays.”
The project has been controversial both from an archaeological perspective and because of its intersection with the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The left-wing Israeli NGO Emek Shaveh did a simulation of the elevator prior to the start of its construction to show how the shaft, which will be built outside the structure, would harm the visual historic aesthetics of the site.
“The plans show it’s a massive monument on the 2000-year-old building with graves thousands of years older,” said Emek Shaveh’s Jonathan Mizrahi.
“Once again, Israel has shown that it is incapable of protecting universal and sacred sites according to international standards,” he added.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 2017 added the tomb to its endangered World Heritage sites list under the “State of Palestine.” The tomb houses both Jewish prayer sanctuaries and the Ibrahimi Mosque.
The Jewish sanctuaries where the tombs of Abraham, Sarah, Jacob and Leah are located can only be accessed by climbing a large stone stairwell. The tombs of Issac and Rebecca are located in the Ibrahimi Mosque.
The Israeli Right has long pushed for an elevator so that disabled worshipers can visit the tombs. But the tomb is located in the West Bank flashpoint city of Hebron, which has an unusual arrangement whereby all municipal projects, including Jewish ones, fall under the auspices of the Palestinian municipality.
To advance the project, Israel had to seize authority from the Palestinian Authority in the area of the tomb so that it could build the elevator.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had promoted the project when he was defense minister, and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu also pushed it as part of his election campaign initiatives.
The Defense Ministry has said construction of the elevator should be carried out by its Engineering and Construction Division under the supervision of the Civil Administration’s chief of archaeology.
The project will also include a small access road from the nearby parking lot, as well as a small wheelchair-accessible footbridge that will be open to worshipers of all denominations.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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