A Palestinian mob armed with Molotov cocktails burned down parts of Joseph’s Tomb overnight, less than a month after rioters attacked Jews praying at the site.
Joseph’s Tomb has been the target of repeated attacks, the most notable of which was during the Second Intifada in 2000, when the complex was almost completely destroyed.
Around 100 Palestinian youths gathered in the wee hours of the morning to throw Molotov cocktails at Joseph’s Tomb.
Some of the rioters broke inside, and set fire to the complex. Palestinian police dispersed the mob and local firefighters extinguished the flames before the IDF was able to arrive at the scene, but not before parts of the Tomb, including the women’s prayer section, burned down.
עימותים עם כוחות צה”ל בשכם, הפלסטינים הציתו אש במתחם קבר יוסף הצדיק, חייליינו פועלים על מנת לפזר את הפורעים pic.twitter.com/tHgUcE2Ucf
— אזעקת חירום צבע אדום (@alarms8) October 15, 2015
“The burning and desecration of Joseph’s Tomb last night is a blatant violation and contradiction of the basic value of freedom of worship. The IDF will take all measures to bring the perpetrators of this despicable act to justice, restore the site to its previous condition and ensure that the freedom of worship returns to Joseph’s Tomb,” said IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner in a statement.
In September, a group of about 60 Palestinians attacked worshipers gathered at the Tomb for penitential prayers ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. The Shin Bet revealed in August that it had foiled a plot by Islamic Jihad to kill Jews entering the site outside of official visiting times.
Joseph’s Tomb was originally supposed to remain under Israeli control as part of the Oslo Accords. However, guarding the holy site proved difficult, and after a Palestinian mob ransacked and burned the Tomb to the ground in 2000, Israel transferred control to the Palestinian Authority. Agreements between Israel and the PA stipulate that Jews must be allowed to visit and pray at the Tomb. In practice, the IDF coordinates one visiting day each month, and Jews are prohibited from being at the site at other times.
By: Sara Abramowicz, United with Israel
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