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Palestinians set fire to Jewish tomb ahead of ‘day of rage’

Palestinians set fire to Jewish tomb ahead of ‘day of rage’A group of Palestinian youths has set fire to Joseph’s Tomb, a holy site revered by Jews in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, according to Israeli Defence Forces.

Adding to rising unrest in the area, the ancient monument located on the outskirts of Nablus was set alight overnight. Images appeared on social media showing the tomb wrapped in flames.

Peter Lerner, spokesman for the Israeli Defence Forces, described the attack as a “blatant violation of the basic value of freedom of worship”.

“[The] IDF will bring perpetrators to justice, restore the site and ensure that freedom of worship returns to Josephs Tomb,” Mr Lerner wrote.

A separate IDF Twitter account said Palestinian forces later extinguished the fire and dispersed those responsible.

Israel’s government said the attack was reminiscent of “the most extreme Islamist elements, from Afghanistan to Libya”, and placed it in the context of the recent friction with Palestinians over Jerusalem’s religious sites, notably al-Aqsa mosque.

“Israel condemns in the strongest terms the attack, perpetrated just because it is a place in which Jews pray,” its foreign ministry said in a statement. “The Joseph’s Tomb arson demonstrates clearly what would happen if the holy sites in Jerusalem were in the hands of the Palestinian leadership.”

The Nablus area is home to several Jewish settlements whose residents have clashed in the past with Palestinians. The nearby Palestinian village of Duma in August saw an arson attack by suspected Jewish extremists that killed three members of a family and seriously wounded another.

Joseph’s Tomb has long been a target of vandalism, and was attacked and set alight in 2000 during the early days of the second “intifada”, or uprising. Israel has intermittently banned its citizens from visiting the site in the years since due to the cost of military protection required to secure safe passage.

The arson attack comes ahead of a day of rage called by the Islamist group Hamas that threatens to escalate further the rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, following two weeks of violence that has led to dozens of deaths.

Earlier this week, Israel sealed off some Palestinian neighbourhoods in Jerusalem — the focal point of unrest — and deployed soldiers across the country.

Eight Israelis have died in a wave of knife, shooting and vehicle attacks, and 30 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s security forces — either during those attacks or while they were throwing rocks at forces guarding the border with the Gaza Strip.

Source: Financial Times
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