Two Israelis were moderately injured early Tuesday morning when Palestinian gunmen opened fire on their car near the entrance to Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus.
The Israel Defense Forces said the Israeli civilians — Jewish worshipers — had failed to coordinate their pilgrimage to the site with the military. After they were shot at, they were extracted by Israeli soldiers.
One of the civilians, a 17-year-old boy, was taken by military helicopter to Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan. The second injured individual, a man, was taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, according to Rescuers Without Borders, a Jewish emergency service operating in the West Bank.
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.
According to the Samaria Regional Council, five Israelis were in the car when Palestinian gunmen opened fire at them. The car was set on fire following the military extraction of the Israeli civilians.
A video shared on social media showed a trail of blood and what appeared to be the car ablaze.
فلسطينيون يحرقون سيارة المستوطنين المصابين برصاص المقاومين، خلال اقتحامهم منطقة قبر يوسف شرق نابلس pic.twitter.com/hoXcpU0nO5
— شبكة قدس فيد (@qudsfeed) August 30, 2022
The regional council said the wounded men were not residents of the area, but from Jerusalem and Modiin Ilit.
A security official cited by Kan news said the men had been stopped by police at some point, but lied and said they were headed for a spring near the settlement of Har Bracha.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Twitter that he wished the wounded a speedy recovery, but warned of the dangers of uncoordinated visits to the area.
“I send my best regards for a speedy recovery to the wounded from the terrorist attack at Joseph’s Tomb and thank the soldiers who rescued the civilians from the scene of the attack,” he said.
“The IDF and security forces make great efforts to allow worshipers to reach Joseph’s Tomb, but an uncoordinated arrival endangers worshipers and security forces. I call on all citizens, for your safety, follow the instructions and take care of yourself,” Lapid added.
Joseph’s Tomb is revered by some as the final resting place of the biblical Joseph, and clashes between the Israeli military and Palestinians are commonplace during visits and pilgrimages. Palestinians routinely throw rocks at troops, and frequently attack them with Molotov cocktails and gunfire.
In June, three Israelis including a senior IDF officer were lightly hurt after Palestinian gunmen opened fire at the complex during a coordinated pilgrimage to the site.
Two weeks ago, a Palestinian teenager was killed during heavy clashes that broke out in the area, also during a visit coordinated with the IDF.
Tensions have been high since April, when some 100 Palestinian rioters broke into the shrine and vandalized it.
مصادر صحفية: اندلاع اشتباكات مسلحة مع قوات الاحتلال خلال حصارها منزلاً في بلدة روجيب شرق نابلس. pic.twitter.com/5tDqYUhrnq
— غزة برس-Gaza Press (@Gazapres) August 30, 2022
In a separate incident, the IDF said Tuesday troops were engaged in a gun battle with armed Palestinians during an arrest operation in Nablus.
Heavy gunfire was heard in the area according to footage published on social media.
Footage also showed Israeli forces apparently launching a small missile at a building where several suspects were said to be holed up.
Video clips circulating on social media later in the morning apparently showed the suspects surrendering to Israeli forces.
— Newpress | نيو برس (@NewpressPs) August 30, 2022
Police later said the suspects are suspected of being involved in a Friday attack in which an Israeli security vehicle came under fire near the settlement of Shavei Shomron in the northern West Bank. No one was injured in the attack, though the car belonging to the settlement’s security team was damaged.
Nablus also saw a violent gun battle on August 9, when Israeli forces killed a wanted Palestinian gunman, Ibrahim Nabulsi, and two other terror group members.
Nabulsi had committed several shooting attacks against soldiers and civilians in the West Bank earlier this year, according to the Shin Bet. The IDF said they included a shooting at the Joseph’s Tomb complex.