Joseph’s Tomb, a site important to Jews who believe it to contain the remains of the biblical patriarch Joseph, was set alight last night by Molotov cocktails as a hundred Palestinians rioted in the West Bank city of Hebron. Following the attack Islamist terror group Hamas called for a “Day of Rage” on Friday, encouraging confrontation with IDF forces along the Gaza border and in the West Bank after noon prayers.
Palestinian Authority security forces dispersed rioters at the holy site and brought the fire under control before IDF soldiers attended the scene, though the women’s section was left badly damaged.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who has been criticised for inflammatory rhetoric and inciting violence in recent days, was quick to condemn the arson attack. The PA President called the act “irresponsible” and said a committee was being formed to investigate and repair the damage to the site caused by “these deplorable actions”.
IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said this morning that “the burning and desecration of Joseph’s Tomb last night is a blatant violation and contradiction of the basic value of freedom of worship”.
He added that the IDF “will take all measures to bring the perpetrators of this despicable act to justice, restore the site to its previous condition and ensure that the freedom of worship returns to Joseph’s Tomb”.
A “Day of Rage” had previously been called for on Tuesday, with attacks leaving 3 Israelis dead and many wounded in Jerusalem and Ra’anana.
Incitement from Palestinian leaders and unfounded allegations that Israel seeks to allow Jews to pray at the Temple Mount (holy to both Jews and Muslims) has led to heightened tensions, with acts of violence carried out by Palestinians becoming a frequent occurrence in Israeli cities.