Selichot at Joseph's Tomb
Selichot at Joseph's TombIsrael news photo: Shomron Regional Council

A riot broke out early Thursday morning as Arab men burned tires and threw stones at Israeli worshippers gathered at Joseph’s tomb in Shechem, reported Ma’an, a news agency based in the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Israeli forces escorted buses loaded with Jewish worshippers to the site at midnight and continued to provide security for them until prayers concluded early this morning.

The report stated that “dozens of young Palestinian men” pelted the Israelis with stones. In response, the IDF soldiers dispersed the violent mob with tear gas canisters and stun grenades. No injuries were reported.  

During the night, Ma’an claims that dozens of Israeli military vehicles raided several neighborhoods in Shechem searching for the perpetrators, but that no arrests were reported.

Under previous agreements with the PA, Israeli worshippers are supposed to have free access to religious sites under PA control. In reality, however, this is not the case, as Jews wishing to visit religious sites under PA jurisdiction are usually forced to do so under armed guard, as a result of regular attacks by Muslim extremists.

In 2000, immediately after Israeli forces handed over control of Shechem to the PA, Arab mobs attacked Joseph's Tomb, ransacking it and desecrating holy items. Rabbi Hillel Lieberman, a dual citizen of the U.S and Israel, was murdered after heading to the site in an attempt to salvage some of the holy items, including the Torah scroll and the Jewish books. 

PA policemen also murdered yeshiva student Ben Yosef Livnat at Joseph's Tomb and wounded four other Jews in an attack in 2011. Ben Yosef was the nephew of Minister Limor Livnat, who said, "He was murdered simply because he was Jewish."