Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef and a delegation from the Shomron Regional Council visited Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus late Sunday night to inspect the compound after it was severely damaged by Palestinian rioters who set fire to the site on Friday.
“‘The nations came and desecrated your sanctuary’,” said Yosef, citing a verse from the Book Psalms.
The recent attack on the site was heavily condemned by Israeli ministers, while the UN General Secretary also issued rare criticism of the Palestinians, describing the incident as “reprehensible.”
President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas was also critical of the arson attack on the holy site.
The Book of Joshua records that the biblical figure Joseph was buried in the city of Shechem, close to present day Nablus, and the tomb is believed to be his final resting place, although there is an archaeological debate on the issue.
Friday’s arson attack is the second time that Palestinians have tried to destroy the shrine.
In October 2000 at the beginning of the second intifada, Palestinian rioters entered the site and set fire to it, gutting the place and burning the prayer books and furniture at the tomb. The dome of the tomb was subsequently painted green in an apparent attempt to Islamicize the site, although the paint was subsequently removed.
The site was restored and re-dedicated in February 2011, but Jewish worship at Joseph’s Tomb has been strictly controlled since October 2000 and the site is fully under the control of the PA.