Opposition MKs threaten to visit site without authorization

For 2nd day in row, Palestinians said to break into Joseph’s Tomb, vandalize shrine

Video of man throwing rocks circulates hours after 2 Israelis shot in unclear circumstances while trying to reach site

A man is seeing throwing rocks inside Joseph's Tomb near Nablus, apparently on April 11, 2022 (Screen grab)
A man is seeing throwing rocks inside Joseph's Tomb near Nablus, apparently on April 11, 2022 (Screen grab)

For the second day in a row, Palestinians reportedly broke into Joseph’s Tomb near the West Bank city of Nablus and vandalized the shrine.

Video circulating on social media showed a man throwing rocks inside the site. The already-vandalized tomb can be seen in the footage.

The date and time of the video could not be immediately verified, but it appeared to have been filmed during the daytime.

In the video, a man is heard saying in Arabic: “There is no Joseph’s Tomb anymore, you traitors.”

The comment was apparently a reference to the Palestinian Authority, after the Nablus regional governor pledged to restore the site following its vandalization on Sunday, and reaffirmed that the shrine was under the PA’s protection. Ibrahim Ramadan also said that Nablus was a “city of three religions.”

According to Palestinian media reports, PA security forces were working Monday morning to restore order in the area surrounding the shrine.

Joseph’s Tomb is located inside Area A of the West Bank, which is officially under complete Palestinian Authority control, though the Israeli military conducts activities there. The IDF bars Israeli citizens from entering Area A without prior authorization.

The tomb is venerated by Jews, Christians and Muslims, and has often been a flashpoint for violence.

Some Jews believe the biblical Joseph is buried in the tomb, while Muslims say a sheikh is buried there.

Joseph’s Tomb, damaged by rioters, April 10, 2022 (Courtesy)

Jewish pilgrims are usually only allowed to visit the tomb once a month under heavy armed guard. During these visits, Palestinians routinely throw rocks at the troops, and sometimes attack them with Molotov cocktails and gunfire.

However, two opposition lawmakers said Monday that if they weren’t given a date on which they would be permitted to visit the shrine, they would do so later that evening, even if they did not have authorization.

“If we do not receive an alternative date for within the next few days, we intend to enter Joseph’s Tomb tonight — with or without permission,” said Religious Zionism MK Orit Strock and Likud’s Yoav Kisch, the heads of the Knesset’s Land of Israel Caucus.

MK Orit Strock attends a Knesset Arrangements Committee meeting in Jerusalem on June 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The latest vandalism came a day after approximately 100 Palestinians broke into the site, rioted and smashed objects inside, and set it ablaze, before they were dispersed by Palestinian security forces, IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Ran Kochav said.

Images on social media showed parts of the tomb inside the shrine broken and charred, and footage showed dozens of Palestinians entering the site and smashing objects inside.

Joseph’s Tomb, damaged by rioters, April 10, 2022 (Courtesy)

The rioting came amid clashes between Palestinian gunmen and IDF soldiers, who had entered the nearby Balata refugee camp in the Jenin area as part of counter-terror operations in the wake of a number of deadly attacks.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett led the condemnation on Sunday of the initial vandalism of Joseph’s Tomb, saying he was appalled by the damage.

“We will not abide such an assault on a place that is holy to us — on the eve of Passover — and we will get to the rioters,” he said. “And of course we will make sure to rebuild what they destroyed, as we always do.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the vandalism was a “grave event,” and said he had sent a “strong message” to the Palestinian Authority about the attack on the shrine.

Monday’s apparent vandalism came hours after the Israel Defense Forces said two Jews were shot and wounded while trying to reach Joseph’s Tomb.

The two men, part of the Bratslav community, were attempting to get to the shrine without having coordinated with the military, which usually oversees visits by Jewish worshipers.

View of the compound of Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus, April 10, 2022 (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

The circumstances of the shooting were not immediately clear. The army said the men went through an unmanned roadblock at the entrance to Nablus.

According to Channel 12 news, the two said they had wanted to help restore the shrine after it was vandalized.

The two men were lightly to moderately injured and the IDF was investigating the circumstances of their injuries.

The shooting and vandalism came during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — often a period of high tension in Israel and the West Bank.

Israel has seen four deadly terror attacks in recent weeks and has ramped up security measures in response, as well as carrying out a number of raids in the West Bank.

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