JERUSALEM (JTA) — Five Jewish-Israelis injured in a confrontation with Palestinian police were rescued and then taken in for questioning by Israel for illegally entering the Tomb of Joseph near Nablus.
The men, part of a group of about 30 Jewish-Israelis who entered the holy site late on Saturday night without coordinating the visit with the Israel Defense Forces, were attacked by Palestinian bystanders and claimed that Palestinian police joined in the violence against them, according to reports. One of the cars brought by the men was torched.
The men, reportedly yeshiva students from Jerusalem, said they went to paint and repair the tomb following an arson attack on the site two nights earlier that caused extensive damage. After being evacuated from the site, the men were taken to the hospital with bruises all over their bodies. They were treated and released before being taken in for questioning, according to Israel Police.
“The yeshiva students’ entrance to the site tonight was irresponsible and the incident could have ended in tragedy, especially in days as tense as these,” the police said in a statement.
Jewish worshippers in coordination with the IDF make monthly nocturnal pilgrimages to the site, which has been renovated and restored. But haredi Orthodox worshippers sometimes make illegal visits to the site, which is believed to be the burial place of the biblical patriarch.
Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, the site was to remain under Israeli control. The IDF evacuated the premises in October 2000 during the second intifada and it was burnt down by Palestinians.