TEL AVIV, ISRAEL – Palestinians burn a West Bank shrine revered by Jews as Israeli forces operate in territory occupied following a series of recent Palestinian attacks in Israel, the army said. Israel said on Sunday.
The development comes as tensions between Israelis and Palestinians escalate during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which this year converges with major Jewish and Christian holidays. Protests and tensions around last year’s holiday flared up into an 11-day war in Gaza.
Army spokesman Brig. General Ran Kochav told Israel Army Radio that about 100 Palestinians marched towards the site late Saturday, rioting and setting it on fire before they were dispersed by Palestinian security forces. Images on social media showed parts of the tomb inside the temple being smashed and charred.
Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, West Bank is a site of prayer. Some Jews believe that the bible Joseph is buried in a mausoleum, while Muslims say that a sheikh is buried there. The military escorts Jewish worshipers to the site several times a year, in coordination with Palestinian security forces.
The incident drew condemnation from Israeli leaders. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he was shocked by the images and said Israel would locate the culprit and repair the damage.
“The vandalism of Joseph’s Tomb is a serious event and a serious violation of the right to freedom of worship in one of the holiest places for all Jews,” Defense Secretary Benny Gantz tweeted.
Also on Sunday, the military said forces near a West Bank village opened fire on the lower part of a suspect, who did not stop as requested as she approached soldiers. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the suspect, a woman in her 40s, died of her injuries in hospital.
The incident comes as Israeli forces continue to operate in Jenin and the surrounding area, where two of the attackers have staged deadly attacks on Israelis in recent weeks.
The Governor of Jenin State, Akram Rajoub, denounced Israel’s ongoing activity in the area, saying it was an act of revenge being taken against all residents in the area.
A raid on the hometown of one of the attackers on Saturday sparked a gun battle in the occupied West Bank that left at least one Palestinian fighter dead.
Army spokesman Kochav said West Bank forces were making arrests, gathering intelligence and preparing to demolish the homes of the attackers.
“We will be everywhere whenever necessary to stop these terrorist attacks. Israel is launching the attack,” Bennett said during his Cabinet meeting.
A military statement said a “violent riot” broke out as forces were operating in the village of Yabad, home of one of the attackers. It said forces responded to the riot with live ammunition and “neutralized” a Palestinian who threw explosives at them. It is not clear what his condition is.
The military said forces arrested at least eight suspects and found ammunition and Israeli military uniforms in one of the suspect’s homes as well as illegal weapons.
Jenin is considered a stronghold of Palestinian militants. Israeli forces are regularly shot while operating in the area. Even the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank and coordinates with Israel on security matters, appears to have little control.
While Israel eased some restrictions on Palestinians during Ramadan, on Saturday Israel tightened them on Jenin, imposing a partial lockdown on all residents, with the exception of workers. work in Israel.
Rajoub, the governor, called the measures “an expression of collective punishment” aimed at disrupting Palestinian lives rather than preventing attacks.
Four Palestinian attacks in recent weeks have killed more than a dozen people in one of the bloodiest incidents of violence against Israelis in years.