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Palestinian rioters vandalized a sacred Jewish site in the West Bank amid clashes over a string of deadly Arab and Palestinian attacks in Israel, officials said Sunday.
About 100 Palestinians marched toward Joseph’s Tomb in the city of Nablus late Saturday and torched it before they were dispersed, Israeli military spokesman Brig. Gen. Ran Kochav told Israeli Army Radio.
Photos showed parts of the tomb smashed and charred, as well as damage to a chandelier hanging above it, a water tank and an electricity closet, the Jerusalem Post reported.
“We will not accept this kind of an attack on a place that is holy to us, particularly on the eve of Passover,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said. “We will reach the rioters. Of course, we will make sure to rebuild what they destroyed, as we always do.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also condemned the destruction of the holy site.
“Attacking holy sites is attacking the heart of a people,” Lapid tweeted. “We will bring the perpetrators to justice and repair Joseph’s Tomb.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz called the damage “extremely serious” and said he “sent a ‘sharp message’ to the Palestinian Authority about it.”
There was no immediate comment from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s office.
Jews believe the tomb is where the Biblical patriarch Joseph is buried, while Muslims say it is the grave site of a sheikh. Though the tomb is in the hands of the Palestinian Authority, Jewish worshippers are escorted to the site several times a year in coordination with Palestinian security forces.
The attack on the tomb came amid protests after a terrorist from Palestine opened fire in Tel Aviv on Thursday, killing three people and wounding several others.
The victims were among 14 people killed in the country since late March in a series of Arab and Palestinian attacks, which included a 27-year-old Palestinian man from the occupied West Bank fatally shooting five people on a crowded street in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak.
Meanwhile, more than 20 Palestinians, many of them armed militants, have been killed by Israeli forces since January.
Tensions have been further escalating as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan this year coincides with the Jewish holiday of Passover.
With Post wires