Israeli troops rescue Hasidic group illegally visiting Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli troops rescued a group of haredi Orthodox Jews who attempted to visit Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus.

Two of the some 60 Jewish pilgrims who visited the holy site overnight Tuesday were injured by Palestinian rock throwers. Half of the Jewish visitors, members of the Breslover movement of Hasidisim, were detained by police after being extricated from the site. The Hasidim also threw rocks at the local Palestinians.

Joseph’s Tomb is also holy to Muslims and Christians. Israeli Jews must receive permission to visit the purported burial place of the Jewish patriarch; the visits must be coordinated with the Israel Defense Forces. Nablus is under military and civilian control of the Palestinian Authority.

Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, the site was to remain under Israeli control. The Israeli army evacuated the premises in October 2000 during the second intifada and it was burnt down by Palestinians. It was renovated and restored, but then torched and vandalized again last October.

Jewish worshippers, in coordination with the IDF, make monthly nocturnal pilgrimages to the refurbished site.