Some 100 Arab rioters desecrated a holy Jewish site near Shechem (Nablus) in what initial reports suggest was an act of retaliation for the IDF’s anti-terror operations in Jenin.
Army Radio reported that the rioters broke into Joseph’s Tomb overnight Saturday, setting multiple fires inside the site and smashing the headstone marking the grave of the revered biblical figure.
The desecration of the site is particularly notable due to past complaints by local Muslims about Israel’s efforts to restore and maintain the tomb. They claim that the compound is an Islamic holy site that has been “Judaized.”
Pictures and videos from the scene show scores of young Muslim men smashing walls and what appears to be the grave itself, with extensive damage to both stonework and the aftermath of fires clearly visible in the images.
“The vandalism of Joseph’s Tomb is a grave event and a serious violation of freedom of worship in one of the holiest places for every Jew,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who recently eased restrictions on Palestinian visitors to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, despite an uptick in deadly terror attacks.
“It violates the feelings of the entire Jewish nation, especially when it occurs during the Muslim holy month,” Gantz continued, pledging that “the State of Israel will take action to ensure that the site will be refurbished and quickly returned to its original condition. In addition, we will take all the measures necessary to prevent such incidents.”
“This [Sunday] morning, I have delivered a strong message to the Palestinian Authority, demanding the immediate reinforcement of their officials on-site, and decisive action against rioters and terrorists that harm stability and security in holy places,” he concluded.
“Destroying one of the holy places for the Jewish people [by Palestinian mobs] just before Passover is an act that should not be shocking to any Jew,” said Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan in a statement.
Dagan referenced the fact that the 1994 Oslo Accords originally designated Joseph’s Tomb as a site under Israeli control. Widespread Arab rioting and international pressure led Israel to surrender administration of the site to the Palestinian Authority in the early 2000s.
Since then, there have been multiple arsons and repeated incidents of Arab mobs attacking Jews praying at the site.
“We demand the immediate return of the IDF to Joseph’s Tomb…The people of Israel in their sovereign state must maintain their sanctity,” Dagan said.
“This is a damage not only to the property of the Jewish people, but a damage to a historic site that is thousands of years old,” he continued.
“Once again, the barbarians from the Palestinian Authority show their true face: the same as ISIS. The Palestinian Authority is unreliable at best and causes terrorism all over the country, [including] the barbarism at Joseph’s Tomb that we are now seeing once again.”
Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement “strongly condemning the destruction of Joseph’s tomb tonight by Palestinians. This is a serious injury to an important and sacred place for the Jewish people, on the eve of Passover.
“The place must be restored immediately and peace and security restored.”
Culled from World Israel News (WIN)