An IDF soldier was shot and moderately wounded while standing guard over religious Jews praying at Joseph’s Tomb in the city of Nablus (Shechem) early Thursday morning. The soldier was taken to Beilinson Hospital and is listed in stable condition.
The troop was shot near the entrance of the Balata refugee camp, located a few blocks from the tomb on the outskirts of the Palestinian-controlled city.
According to the army, the circumstances of the shooting attack are still under investigation.
Local Arabs harassed other soldiers guarding the area by rolling burning tires towards them. They also threw rocks and Molotov cocktails, the Times of Israel reported. The IDF troops responded with riot dispersal tactics, and the prayers of the Jewish worshippers were allowed to continue as planned.
Sixteen buses of Jewish worshippers had traveled to Nablus for the visit, which was coordinated by the IDF, Border Police, and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). Israeli security forces organize once monthly visits, under heavy guard, in order for religious Jews to pray at the traditional burial place of the Biblical patriarch.
The pilgrimages always take place in the early hours of the morning, when the streets are quieter and altercations less likely. Nevertheless, Jews who visit without security are often attacked by local residents and risk arrest and detention by the police if they break the rules.
Last week, about 60 Hasidic Jews attempted to enter Nablus without an army escort. Their bus was attacked by Palestinians and the Jewish visitors had to be rescued by the IDF and Israeli police.