Palestinian rioters engage in ‘shocking’ attack on Joseph’s Tomb, damaging Jewish holy site

Already flaring tensions between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinians came to a head Saturday when rioters, objecting to the second night of arrests in the aftermath of a terrorist attack that killed three in Tel Aviv, entered Joseph’s Tomb and vandalized the sacred site.

Located in the Palestinian-controlled city of Nablus in Israel’s West Bank, Joseph’s Tomb is where the son of Jacob and Rachel and viceroy of Egypt was finally laid to rest after the Jews began their exodus to the Promised Land. The attack on the holy site comes days before Passover is set to begin and with the Muslim month of Ramadan already underway.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett condemned the desecration and committed to restoring the holy site stating, “We will not accept this kind of an attack on a place that is holy to us, particularly on the eve of Passover. We will reach the rioters. Of course, we will make sure to rebuild what they destroyed as we always do.”

Former IDF spokesperson Avi Mayer shared images of the vandalism that included a fire and damage to a chandelier, water tank and electricity closet in addition to the heinous attack upon the gravestone.

As the tomb is in Palestinian-controlled land, as it has been since Oct. 2000 following a transfer of power from the IDF who had been granted possession in the 1993 Oslo Accords, worshipping Jews require an IDF escort for passage to the tomb. However, some do illegally enter the city to pray.

Their devotion was noted by Israeli Defense Minister Been Gantz who stated, “The vandalism of Joseph’s Tomb is a serious event and a grave violation of freedom of worship in one of the holiest places for every Jew. It violates the feelings of the entire Jewish nation, especially when it occurs during the Muslim holy month.”

“The State of Israel will take action to ensure that the site will be refurbished and quickly returned to its original condition. In addition,” Gantz went on, “we will take all the measures necessary to prevent such incidents.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also opined on the matter, offering, “Attacking holy sites is attacking the heart of a people. The Palestinians who laid waste to Joseph’s Tomb seek to sow destruction and devastation during a holy festival. This is serious damage not only to the tomb itself but to the deeply held feelings of the Jewish people.”

“We will bring the perpetrators to justice and repair Joseph’s Tomb. I call on everyone to promote calm and quiet,” Lapid added in hopes of keeping the peace.

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also reacted, “I strongly condemn the destruction of Joseph’s tomb tonight by Palestinians. This is a serious injury to an important and sacred place for the Jewish people, on the eve of Passover. The place must be restored immediately and peace and security restored.”

In addition to the remains of Joseph, the Jerusalem Post explained that the sacred site also houses religious books and Torah scrolls. The site was attacked at the time of the transfer when a gunfight had taken place killing 17 Palestinians and 19-year-old Border Police Cpl. Madhat Yusuf.

Rabbi Hillel Lieberman was reported to have been killed as well in his effort to protect the site and the relics contained within. This, the Post explained, was part of the paradox in the region wherein Israel protects the holy sites of all religions but the same benefit is not afforded to their sacred sites.

Following the most recent attack, calls rang out for it to be returned to the IDF that this may never again happen as the tomb had also been destroyed and restored in 2015.


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