Date: October 21, 2015
By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
NABLUS, WEST BANK (ANS – October 21, 2015) -- Palestinians have torched a Jewish holy site in the West Bank city of Nablus, amid soaring tensions with Israel.
According to the BBC, rioters on October 16, 2015, set fire to a tomb revered as that of the biblical figure Joseph. The site, where Jews go to pray, was badly damaged.
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,” said the BBC.
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, next to Hebron.
Violence between the two sides has spiraled, 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 rumors Israel planned to relax long-standing rules to increase Jewish rights at the complex. Israel has repeatedly denied such claims,” the BBC story continued.
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 Lt Col 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.”
Now the Simon Wiesenthal Center has denounced the torching of Joseph’s Tomb by what they described as “a large Palestinian mob.”
In a statement, the center said that the Jewish holy site has been desecrated repeatedly in the past, rebuilt, and assured of its security by President Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority.
“Extremist Palestinians have once again demonstrated their hatred and disdain for Jews and Judaism,” charged Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean and Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, Interfaith Director of the leading Jewish Human Rights NGO.
“The current brutal campaign against Israelis was instigated and sustained by blood libel that Israel, which has protected the rights of religious minorities for decades unlike any Muslim country, plotted to change the status quo of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Palestinian mob in Nablus may have been motivated by this big lie, but how do we account for the overwhelming silence of nations, religious leaders and NGOs who are silent in face of this desecration while lending credence to the outrageous claims about Al-Aqsa”, Center officials concluded.”
Joseph's Tomb (from the BBC):
* Revered by Jews and Muslims as the burial place of the biblical figure Joseph, son of Jacob
* Located in a compound in the city of Nablus, transferred to Palestinian control in 1995
* Ransacked and burnt by Palestinian rioters at start of second uprising in Oct, 2000
* Jewish pilgrims permitted to visit at night, once a month, under Israeli military protection
* Visits coordinated with Palestinian authorities
Photo captions: 1) Flames at Joseph's Tomb near Nablus on Oct. 16, 2015. 2) A 2010 photo of ultra-Orthodox Jews walking through the compound of Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus. (Photo: Flash 90/Kobi Gideon, EPA). 3) A Jewish worshipper prays in Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus (Reuters). 5) Dan Wooding pictured outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He is also the author of some 45 books and has a radio show and two television programs all based out of Orange County, California.