Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday condemned the overnight vandalism of the religious holy site of Joseph’s Tomb near the West Bank city of Nablus by Palestinian extremists, vowing to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Dozens of Palestinian rioters in a frenzy of destruction simply vandalized a holy place for us, the Jews. They shattered the headstone over the tomb and set fire to rooms in the complex; I have seen the shocking pictures,” Bennett said.
“We will not tolerate such an attack on a place that is holy for us, on the eve of Passover, and will reach the rioters,” he warned. “We will see to the rebuilding of what has been destroyed, just as we always do.”
Bennett joined other senior officials in announcing that State of Israel will refurbish and rebuild the site to quickly return it to its original condition.
The incident came on the second night that IDF special forces were engaged in counterterrorism operations in the West Bank, apprehending eight suspects involved in terrorist activities and confiscating illegal weapons. Israel accelerated operations in the Palestinian territories following a string of deadly terrorist attacks over the past month, which together killed 14 people.
Bennett said that the IDF, Israeli Security Agency and Israel Police forces have been operating around the clock to restore security and stop the wave of terrorism.
“We are continuing to arrest those who have been involved in terrorism and are striking at the terrorists,” Bennett asserted. “We will settle accounts with everyone who was linked, either directly or indirectly, to the attacks.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz described the arson act as a “grave event and a serious violation of freedom of worship in one of the holiest places for every Jew.”
“It violates the feelings of the entire Jewish nation, especially when it occurs during the Muslim holy month,” Gantz commented. “In addition, we will take all the measures necessary to prevent such incidents.”
Gantz said he communicated a “strong message” to the Palestinian Authority, asking for immediate reinforcement of their officials on-site, and for “decisive action against rioters and terrorists that harm stability and security in holy places.”
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that attacking holy sites was akin to attacking the heart of a people.
“The damage done to Joseph’s Tomb during a holy festival is shocking. This is serious damage not only to the tomb itself, but to the deeply-held feelings of the Jewish people,” Lapid said. “We will bring the perpetrators to justice and repair Joseph’s Tomb. I call on everyone to promote calm and quiet.”