September/October 2000

Palestinians destroy evacuated Joseph's Tomb

And these are the people we Christians should trust with our Holy Sites in Jerusalem and elsewhere ? Wake up World !
By Margot Dudkevitch

NABLUS (October 8) - Scores of Palestinians stormed into the Joseph's Tomb compound in Nablus and destroyed the site yesterday, after IDF and Border Police units evacuated the shrine early in the morning.

Palestinians shot at the convoy of troops as it left the city, moderately wounding one border policeman, who was taken to the hospital.
Joseph's Tomb trashed
"I have never seen such a serious situation before," Border Police Supt. Yusef Maclada, the site's deputy commander, told The Jerusalem Post. "We immediately packed all the religious articles and the operational equipment and other belongings and left," he said.

Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces continued to spread and escalate in Israel and the territories last night.

In the Gaza Strip, at least two Israeli Airport Authority workers were wounded after shots were fired at a bus headed from the Rafiah Terminal for Kerem Shalom late last night, the IDF said. Several other people were lightly wounded.

A Palestinian was killed by gunfire near Biddiya in the West Bank, Israel Radio reported. Palestinians said a settler had shot at his car and fled.

Two IDF tanks were stationed near the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, guarding the Gush Etzion tunnel road, after Palestinians fired light weapons at the neighborhood from the direction of Beit Jalla. Soldiers returned fire. No injuries were reported.

The IDF also deployed tanks at Psagot and the Ayosh junction, and called on Palestinian civilians living nearby to evacuate homes used by Palestinians to shoot at the settlement.

"In the past two days there has been an escalation in shooting at Psagot and IDF troops. We will respond harshly, accurately and determinedly. We call on all Palestinians living near Psagot who may be caught in the line of fire and have nothing to do with the gun battles - families with children - to leave their homes until the battle is over,"said Col. Gal Hirsch, commander of the Binyamin region.

In Hebron, Palestinians fired at the Avraham Avinu and Beit Hadassah neighborhoods. IDF troops returned fire. According to reports, they also fired at a group of 10 armed Hamas activists who tried to approach Jewish homes. There were no reports of casualties.

Soldiers returned fire at Rachel's Tomb outside Bethlehem, and near Tulkarm and Ariel. Firebombs and stones were thrown at security forces at the Ayosh junction, in Tulkarm, Hebron, and at the Highway 250 intersection on the Jenin bypass road.

Gunfire exchanges were also reported at the Netzarim junction in Gaza, and firebombs were thrown at the district coordinating office and at the Erez checkpost.

The European Union yesterday issued a severe condemnation of the sacking of Joseph's Tomb, and expressed "deep concern" over continuing confrontations.

A statement by the 15-member EU said the body "condemns without reserve" yesterday's events at the site, in which Palestinian gunmen and civilians stormed the tomb and the adjacent Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva, ripping apart prayer books and commentaries and setting fire to parts of the compound in a show of triumph, just hours after the IDF evacuated the site.

Prime Minister Ehud Barak had ordered the evacuation from the enclave - the first time Israel relinquished territory as a direct result of Palestinian violence.

The EU "reiterates its rejection of all forms of provocation and renews its call for the absolute respect of holy sites for believers of all religions," the statement said.

In response to the pullout from Joseph's Tomb, scores of settlers last night blocked intersections throughout Judea and Samaria. Police and settlers scuffled at the Tapuah junction after settlers blocked the road and prevented Palestinian vehicles from passing. Other areas where protests took place were the new Yitzhar intersection, Ma'aleh Ephraim, Highway 55 near Kedumim, and Givat Ze'ev. Judea and Samaria Police spokesman Rafi Yafe said police were deployed throughout the area to prevent confrontations with Palestinians.

Police and IDF troops also conducted a search for US citizen Hillel Lieberman of Alon Moreh, who was reported missing yesterday morning. Lieberman is feared to be somewhere in Palestinian-controlled Area A. Yafe said a report was received at noon, but the family refused to cooperate with police.

However, the Palestinian news agency, Al Jazirra, reported that Lieberman, who went to protest the withdrawal from the compound, was killed by Palestinians.

Yafe said last night police were seeking clarification and investigating. Settlers asked the US Embassy to assist in finding Lieberman.

Settler leaders including those affiliated with the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva vowed to return and re-establish a Jewish presence at Joseph's Tomb in the near future.

Yeshiva director Yehuda Liebman said, "It was clear a day after the Temple Mount was given to the Palestinians, Joseph's Tomb would be the next in line. Israel is disintegrating from inside."

Toward the late afternoon and evening on Friday, Palestinians and armed Tanzim activists fired shots at IDF soldiers and border policemen throughout the region, including Hebron, Halhoul, and the Shedma junction near Beit Sahur.

One IDF soldier suffered light wounds at the Ayosh junction and a border policeman was lightly wounded at Kalkilya. Clashes ensued at Kadim and Ganim near Jenin, Hebron, Sanur, Yad Yair, Psagot, Ofra, and Shavei Shomron.

In the Gaza Strip, shots were fired at IDF troops along the Egyptian border south of Rafah, at the nearby border crossing, and the Netzarim junction. Thousands of Palestinians marched towards Neveh Dekalim and threw firebombs at the industrial site there. One IDF soldier was lightly wounded by stones thrown at troops stationed at the DCO in the northern Gaza Strip near Nisanit. Shots were fired at Kfar Darom and at IDF troops at Neveh Dekalim.

© Jerusalem Post 2000

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