Attacks on Jewish Worshipers at Holy Sites

Attacks at the Tomb of Joseph and the Tomb of Rachel this week emphasize that the year-long wave of terror plaguing Israel is a religious struggle, and not just a political disagreement.

Joseph's Tomb is the biblical burial place of the Patriarch Joseph. It is located on the outskirts of the city of Shechem and regularly attracts Jewish worshipers. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons.)
Joseph’s Tomb (Photo: Wikimedia Commons.)

Approximately 700 Jewish worshipers who arrived at the Tomb of Joseph outside of Shechem (Nablus) late Wednesday night in preparation for the upcoming high-holidays were attacked by dozens of Arabs throwing rocks and improvised fire-bombs. IDF troops assigned to protect the worshipers responded with rubber bullets, tear gas and shock grenades, dispersing the crowds. No injuries were reported, though last month, under similar circumstances, a soldier was shot by an Arab and moderately wounded.

Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, Joseph’s Tomb was to remain under Israeli control, but the Palestinian Authority (PA) took over the site after the Israeli army withdrew during the second intifada. Though Biblical Joseph plays a prominent role in the Koran and Muslims admit he was Jewish, Palestinians have declared the tomb a Muslim holy site, claiming it is the funerary monument of Sheikh Yousef Dweikat, a local religious figure.Despite claiming it is holy to them, Palestinians vandalize the shrine and have burned it to the ground several times.

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Thursday afternoon, Jews visiting the Tomb of Rachel came under attack by Arabs throwing stones.

Rachel’s Tomb is a few hundred yards south of Jerusalem and on the outskirts of Bethlehem. Riot dispersal gear was used and the incident ended with no injuries.

Rachel’s Tomb is a popular site for Jewish Women to pray, though men pray there as well. Despite the PA renaming the site and UNESCO efforts to take away Israeli rights to sovereignty at the site, it remains under Jewish control.