More than 50,000 people visited Chevron during Chol Hamoed Pesach, sources in the city’s Jewish community estimated. Chevron’s Jewish community celebrates twice a year, on Sukkos and on Pesach, when the Meoras Hamachpeilah is fully open to Jews, including the kever of Yitzchok Avinu, which is located on the side that is usually open to Muslims only.
Most visitors arrive to daven at the Meoras Hamachpeilah, but throughout the years the event had turned into a demonstration of support for the Jewish settlement in the city.
The event included performances by Jewish singers, as well as tours of the city’s sites and different activities for children and families.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who arrived in the city on Thursday to support its Jewish residents, said that “the mass event in Chevron is the answer to the handful of leftists who gathered in Tel Aviv today to declare the establishment of a Palestinian state – an empty and meaningless declaration.”
Noam Arnon, the Jewish community’s spokesman, said the thousands of visitors toured the area, shopped and spoke to local residents.
“It was a heartwarming event,” he said. “The local residents, Arabs and Jews, welcome the holidays and the tourism. We want to see a tourism city here. Only hostile elements, anarchists who come here to create damage, schism and hostility, disrupt the coexistence here. The government must end their activity and remove them from here, and then there will be peace.”
Orit Struck, one of the leaders of the Chevron Jewish community, said new and diverse populations visited the city this year after overcoming fears and transportation difficulties.
“Thanks to the revolution which Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and MK Uri Maklev were involved in, we have the pleasure of seeing them here,” she said. “Among the visitors were deprived people, who used public transportation to get here.
“All the difficulties we face here on a daily basis in order to maintain this holy place for the people of Israel become worthwhile when we see the people of Israel arriving here in masses,” Struck added.
“This is something which doesn’t exist in Shechem (Nablus) and unfortunately not in Bais Lechem either, and it’s made possible only because we live here despite all the difficulties. And for that we must say, ‘Our efforts are rewarded.'”
The Chevron Jewish community’s coordinator, Ashi Horowitz, who organized the event, said that more than 35,000 visited the city on Thursday and some 20,000 arrived on Wednesday.
“In total, we enjoyed the presence of more than 50,000 visitors, and this is really heartwarming,” he said.