Machpela Wheelchair Access Clears Latest Hurdle

The historic pilgrimage site will finally get a wheelchair ramp and elevator, to benefit visitors of all faiths.

15.7.20, 13:32
(IMAGE: Architectural rendering of future handicapped access.)
Benny Gantz, who serves as Vice Prime Minister and Defense Minister, cleared the political hurdles in order to build handicapped access for the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron. "It is impossible for an important site for both Jews and Muslims like the Cave of the Patriarchs to be inaccessible to the disabled and handicapped," Gantz stated.
He made the statement during a discussion with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, and authorities from the Defense Ministry, the Israel Defense Forces and the General Security Service.

The 2,000-year-old structure was built by King Herod the Great to house the Cave of Machpela, burial site of the Biblical Matriarchs and Patriarchs. There are separate entrances for Jewish and Muslim worshipers, accessible by steep stone stairs. Currently wheelchair-bound visitors are carried by hand up the steps, while those on canes or crutches, take the slow walk up with an attendant.

The project includes the construction of a wheelchair ramp and elevator that would benefit all residents of the city and visitors. Minister Gantz ordered the completion of all procedures for carrying out the project, including the conclusion of the legal proceedings, the discussion of objections, and a summary of the budgetary sources.

He said he sees the project, held up in bureaucracy for years, as a basic humanitarian issue that should have been addressed a long time ago.

The Ministry of Tourism will set a budget of NIS 2.5 million for the work. The funds will be transferred to the Ministry of Defense for the purpose of carrying out the work. A great deal of planning was taken into consideration to retain the historic nature of the site. Over 1 million people visited the site in 2019, an all-time record. The Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Law requires every public structure to be fully accessible to the disabled.

The Btsalmo organization for disabled rights stated, "we welcome the decision. Minister Benny Gantz has shown leadership and understood that human rights must be promoted everywhere and at all times."

אחת ההתמודדויות המתסכלות ביותר במערת המכפלה הינה קרוב ל100 המדרגות המובילות אליה. עבור אנשים שכוחם במותניהם מדובר בעניין שבשגרה, במטרד סביר לכל היותר. אך כאשר מדובר בנכה, בקשיש או במוגבל תנועה, העניין כבר נעשה אתגר כמעט בלתי אפשרי. לפעמים זה נגמר בפציעה של ממש, כמו שקרה במהלך צילום הסירטון של כאן. לאבסורד הזה חייבים לשים סוף. מנגישים את מערת המכפלה עכשיו. צפו ושתפו.

Posted by ‎חברון - מערת המכפלה‎ on Monday, March 5, 2018



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