Dozens of members of the Bratslav Hasidic sect were detained by police early Tuesday morning after entering the West Bank city of Nablus to visit Joseph’s Tomb without army escort. Palestinians attacked their bus, requiring the group’s rescue by the army.
Some 60 members of the Hasidic sect entered the Palestinian city where the shrine is located, without coordinating their visit with the IDF.
The tomb is located inside Area A of the West Bank, under complete Palestinian Authority control. The IDF bars Israeli citizens from entering Area A without prior authorization.
Palestinians threw stones at the group, lightly injuring two, according to Ynet. A 17-year-old boy was treated by paramedics and taken to Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva for further treatment.
Israeli police and IDF forces who came to the scene evacuated the bus and 32 of the pilgrims were detained for questioning.
The tomb is venerated by Jews, Christians and Muslims and has often been a flashpoint for sectarian violence. Jewish pilgrims are allowed to visit the site once a month under heavy armed guard.
Following the incident the police and army cautioned Israeli citizens against entering Area A of the West Bank without army escort.
“The IDF stresses that the entry of Israeli civilians to Area A is dangerous and is breaking the law,” the army said.
In a statement, police said, “We consider last night’s incident to be very serious. Entry [into Area A] without coordination and without security protection is dangerous for those who go in and for the security forces that go in to rescue. Entry into Area A without permission is a criminal offense.”
Two months earlier Palestinian residents of Nablus threw rocks and burning tires at IDF soldiers as they escorted hundreds of visitors to the Jewish holy site.
Last October, the site was torched by Palestinian rioters in an incident condemned by Israeli leaders and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Following that incident, around 30 Israelis tried to access the site without prior coordination with the army, ostensibly to check the damage. Five members of the group were accosted by Palestinian security forces, who beat them before handing them over to Israel. Palestinians pulled the five from their cars and then torched one of the vehicles, reports said. The IDF extricated the remainder of the group.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.