Soldier shot while guarding visit to Joseph’s Tomb
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Soldier shot while guarding visit to Joseph’s Tomb

Injured man in stable condition; Palestinians throw rocks, firebombs at troops escorting monthly pilgrimage to Nablus holy site

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative: Hundreds of ultra Orthodox Jewish men pray near the compound of Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus early on June 10, 2013. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90/File)
Illustrative: Hundreds of ultra Orthodox Jewish men pray near the compound of Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus early on June 10, 2013. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90/File)

An IDF soldier was shot and moderately wounded while guarding a group of religious Jews visiting the Joseph’s Tomb holy site, in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, early Thursday morning, the army said.

The injured soldier was brought to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva for treatment and is currently in stable condition, an army spokesperson said.

The shots were fired at the entrance to the Balata refugee camp, which is located a few blocks away from the tomb, on the outskirts of Nablus.

“The circumstances of the incident are being investigated,” the army said in a statement.

Local residents also rolled burning tires and threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at troops guarding the area.

The forces responded with riot dispersal tactics, and the visitors were able to complete their prayers “as planned,” the army said.

Some 16 buses full of visitors entered the Palestinian city early Thursday morning, according to the IDF.

The military, along with the Border Police and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, oversees such pilgrimages to Joseph’s Tomb every month.

According to Jewish tradition, the biblical patriarch is buried in the tomb, while Muslims say a local sheikh is buried there.

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 authorization.

Masked Palestinian youth burn tires and throw stones in Joseph's Tomb during clashes with Israeli troops nearby, in the West Bank city of Nablus in April 2011. Palestinians shot and killed one Israeli and wounded two others on April 24, 2011 near Joseph's Tomb. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Masked Palestinian youth burn tires and throw stones in Joseph’s Tomb during clashes with Israeli troops nearby, in the West Bank city of Nablus in April 2011. Palestinians shot and killed one Israeli and wounded two others on April 24, 2011 near Joseph’s Tomb. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

While gunfire is relatively uncommon, local Palestinians regularly attack the soldiers guarding the visitors with rocks, firebombs and burning tires.

Last week, dozens of members of the Bratslav Hasidic sect were detained by police after they visited the holy site without army escort. Residents threw stones at the group, lightly injuring two.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, the IDF also arrested six suspected members of the Hamas terror organization in the West Bank.

Four of them were arrested in the Hebron area, while the other two were picked up near Jenin, in the northern West Bank.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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