Palestinians attacked a gathering of Jews praying at Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus early Thursday morning, throwing stones, bricks and firing an automatic weapon, according to Israeli media reports and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). None of the worshipers were wounded, but a Palestinian was injured by Israeli troops responding to the attack.
Because the Jewish holy site is located in a large Palestinian city, Israel Defense Forces personnel were guarding the worshipers, estimated at 1,400 by the Jerusalem Post. They were praying in advance of the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, which begins Friday evening.
“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,” writes Arutz 7.
The IDF Spokesman’s office released a statement which read in part, “The IDF identified the suspected shooter and fired towards him in self defense. The suspect was moderately wounded and after receiving treatment by an IDF military doctor, he was transferred to a nearby Israeli hospital for further care.”
“The IDF ensures freedom of religion and worship throughout the region. Last night’s incident emphasized the challenges we have and the potential jeopardizing of religious beliefs. The IDF will continue to facilitate the religious needs of the various populations in the region,” said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.
Under the Oslo Peace Accords, the Palestinian Authority is supposed to allow Jews to pray at Joseph’s Tomb and to provide security for the area. However, the site has a history of bloody incidents targeting Jews. In October 2000, the shrine was ransacked by Palestinians. In the ensuing clashes, an Israeli border police officer was killed as were six Palestinian attackers.
Rabbi Hillel Lieberman who headed the Jewish seminary located in the tomb complex was also killed in Nablus in October 2000.
In 2011, Palestinian Authority policemen fired on three cars carrying Jewish worshipers who had just prayed at the site, killing an Israeli father of four.