Israel: Palestinians torch Jewish holy site in Nablus

Israeli security forces stand guard as Palestinian Muslim worshippers take part in prayers yesterday in east Jerusalem. Picture: Getty
Israeli security forces stand guard as Palestinian Muslim worshippers take part in prayers yesterday in east Jerusalem. Picture: Getty
Share this article
0
Have your say

PALESTINIANS have torched a Jewish holy site in the West Bank city of Nablus, amid soaring tensions with Israel.

Rioters set fire to a tomb revered as that of the biblical figure Joseph.

The site, where Jews go to pray, was badly damaged.

Palestinian security forces extinguished the blaze early yesterday.

Footage on local media shows flames leaping from the small stone structure

It came hours after Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Palestinian leadership to stop a wave of attacks.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas condemned the arson and said the site would be repaired.

Elsewhere in the occupied West Bank, a Palestinian disguised as a news photographer stabbed and moderately wounded an Israeli soldier, the Israeli military said.

It said the Palestinian attacker was shot dead in the incident in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba.

Violence between the two sides has spiralled, with near-daily stabbings by Palestinians of Israelis this month.

Seven Israelis have been killed and dozens wounded in the stabbings and some gun attacks.

At least 30 Palestinians, including several of the attackers, have been killed in the growing unrest.

The upsurge began last month when tensions at a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem revered by Jews and Muslims boiled over amid rumours Israel planned to relax long-standing rules to increase Jewish rights at the complex. Israel has repeatedly denied such claims.

In the night-time attack in Nablus, dozens of Palestinians overran the tomb, attacking it with petrol bombs.

Palestinian police dispersed the crowd and firefighters extinguished the blaze before Israeli security forces arrived.

Israel’s military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said the attack was “a blatant violation of the basic value of freedom of worship”.

He said Israel would “bring perpetrators to justice and restore the site”.

Mr Abbas denounced the attack on the tomb as “illegal”, adding that it “offends our culture and our religion and our values”.

This is not the first time the tomb has come under attack. Palestinians tried to set fire to it again last year and virtually destroyed the site in 2000 after Israeli guards withdrew amid clashes.

It comes amid a major security operation by Israel to try to stop attacks on its citizens by Palestinians.

Mr Abbas has said Israeli occupation of Palestinian areas and “aggression” is to blame for the unrest.

Hours before the attack in Nablus, Mr Netanyahu called on Palestinian Authority ­ president Mr Abbas to stop what he said was incitement to violence.

Mr Abbas has said Israeli occupation of Palestinian areas and “aggression” is to blame for the unrest.

Meanwhile the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting yesterday to discuss the upsurge of violence.

The US secretary of state John Kerry has said he planned to travel to the region in the next few days, amid reports that a meeting may take place in Jordan to include the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.