Some 3,000 Israeli worshippers visited Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus) on Tuesday night for a special Rosh Chodesh prayer session.
As the Jewish visitors entered the site, Arabs rioted, throwing rocks and firebombs at Israeli security forces. No visitors or security personnel were hurt in the attacks.
In addition, shots were fired at the forces, who returned fire. Due to the attacks, it was decided to remove the Jewish worshipers from the tomb complex earlier than scheduled, and not allow another group of worshipers to enter.
The worshippers have previously been attacked by rioters. The entry into Shechem, under Palestinian Authority (PA) control, occurs several times a year. The prayers take place only during the night and under heavy security provided by the Israeli forces.
The head of the Shomron Regional Council, Yossi Dagan, warned of the government’s incompetence and abandonment of the holy site.
“The heart desires to connect to our deepest roots. On the other hand, we are heartbroken that we have to come here as thieves in the night, to see stones thrown on the road, to see on the way the vandalism that the barbaric Palestinian Authority is doing here time and time again,” he stated.
Member of Knesset Itamar Ben Gvir, who was present during the visit, stated that “it is time to proudly wave the Israeli flag, return fully and give the opportunity to anyone who wants to come in every day.”
The tomb was under full Israeli control prior to the Oslo Accords and was home to a yeshiva.
MKs Simcha Rothman and Moshe Abutbul were present as well.