Jews worhip at Kever Yosef
Jews worhip at Kever YosefSamaria Regional Council

A large contingent of worshipers who visited the Tomb of Joseph (Kever Yosef) in Shechem Wednesday night were attacked by gangs of Arabs, who threw rocks and bricks at them.

The worshipers were accompanied by a large number of IDF soldiers. The Arabs attacked the soldiers with rocks as well. Troops used anti-riot techniques to quell the mob.

At one point, one of the attackers opened fire at soldiers with an automatic weapon. Troops and civilians took cover, and soldiers fired back in the direction of the gunfire, hitting the terrorist who had opened fire on them and injuring him seriously. He was taken to a hospital in an Israeli city for treatment.

"Overnight, gunshots were fired at security personnel escorting Israeli civilians who were praying in Joseph's Tomb in Nablus (Shechem)," a military statement said. Soldiers, it added, "returned fire towards the suspected shooter inself-defence."

After the shootout, soldiers were able to break up the riot, and worshipers were able to reach the tomb and hold services.

Four other rioters were injured during the clashes.

According to the Oslo Accords, signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Shechem was assigned to Area A, and is under PA civilian and security control. The PA committed to allowing Jews to visit and pray at Joseph's Tomb, and are supposed to ensure security for visiting worshipers. However, the PA has rarely if ever lived up to its commitment, and attacks by rioting Arabs against Jews at the site are common.

In October 2000, at the start of the second "intifada,"or terror war, an Arab mob attacked the site, ransacking the tomb, desecrating Jewish holy items and partly destroying it, after driving out an Israeli border police detachment stationed there, one of whom was killed in the fighting, along with six attackers.

Rabbi Hillel Lieberman, dean (Rosh Yeshiva) of the "Od Yoseph Chai" yeshiva (Jewish seminary) which had been housed in the tomb was also murdered in that attack. Rabbi Lieberman was lynched as he tried to protect sacred Jewish items inside the tomb.

In 2011, Palestinian Authority policemen opened fire on a car carrying Jewish worshippers to the site, killing 24 year-old father of four Ben Yoseph Livnat.

Also on Wednesday night, IDF soldiers arrested wanted terror suspects in five locations in Judea and Samaria, including in villages in the Ramallah, Hevron, and Bethlehem areas.