Two Jews shot, wounded while trying to reach the shrine in the West Bank

Two Jews were shot and wounded while trying to reach Joseph’s grave near the West Bank city of Nablus, Israeli defense forces said Monday morning.

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

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

The incident comes a day after Palestinians vandalized and set fire to parts of the shrine, sparking widespread condemnation in Israel.

According to Channel 12 news, the two said they had wanted to help restore the sanctuary.

After the shooting, the men and the rest of their group managed to reach an IDF checkpoint near the shrine, where they received first aid and were taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikvah, the army said.

The two men were slightly to moderately injured and the IDF was in the process of investigating the circumstances surrounding their injuries.

On the night of Sunday, about 100 Palestinians broke into the site, rioted and smashed objects inside and set it on fire before being dispersed by Palestinian security forces, IDF spokesman Brig said. said General Ran Kochav.

Pictures on social media showed parts of the tomb inside the sanctuary smashed and charred.

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

The riots came amid clashes between Palestinian gunmen and IDF soldiers in the nearby Balata refugee camp in the Jenin area.

Footage showed dozens of Palestinians entering the site and smashing objects inside. The tomb is revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims and has often been a hotbed of violence.

Some Jews believe that the biblical Joseph is buried in the tomb, while Muslims say that a sheikh is buried there. The army escorts Jewish worshipers to the site several times a year in coordination with Palestinian security forces.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday led the condemnation of the vandalism overnight on Joseph’s grave, saying he was shaken by the images of the damage to the shrine.

“During the night, the Palestinians destroyed Joseph’s grave. “Dozens of Palestinian rioters in a campaign of destruction simply violated a holy place for us Jews,” Bennett said at the start of the government meeting.

“They broke the tombstone on the grave, set fire to rooms in the building – I saw the pictures and was shocked,” he said.

“We will not endure such an attack in a place that is sacred to us – Easter Eve – and we will come to the troublemakers,” he said. “And of course we will make sure to rebuild what they destroyed, as we always do.”

Defense Secretary Benny Gantz said the vandalism was a “serious event” and said he had sent a “strong message” to the Palestinian Authority about the attack on the shrine. Gantz said Israel will work quickly to “ensure that the site is renovated and quickly returned to its original state.”

Benny Gantz (on the right) and Yair Lapid at the Knesset on 18 November 2019. (Hadas Parush / Flash90)

Joseph’s Tomb is located inside Area A of the West Bank, which is officially under the full control of the Palestinian Authority, although the Israeli military is carrying out activities there. The IDF prevents Israeli citizens from entering Area A without prior permission.

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

The sanctuary has also been burned in the past.

The attack overnight 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 terrorist attacks in recent weeks and has stepped up security measures in response, as well as carried out a series of raids in the West Bank.

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