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Focus: The Riots in Nablus

Saturday, September 1, 2001 | Tag Cloud Tags: ,

Focus: The Riots in Nablus
The outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian clashes has been particularly intense around Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, a site of fierce fighting in the "tunnel riots" of 1996, with one Israeli soldier shot dead over the weekend inside the synagogue.

On Friday, the eve of the Jewish New Year, yeshiva students at Joseph's Tomb were ordered by the IDF to evacuate following intelligence reports that hostile actions were imminent. A small contingent of military personnel was ordered to remain to guard the holy site.

On Sunday, an Israeli border policeman shot during an assault on the compound bled to death when Palestinian Authority military personnel prevented his medical evacuation for five hours. Cpl. Madhat Yousef, 19, of the Druze village Beit Jann, was the third member of the Israeli security services killed since Wednesday. When Yousef was initially injured, IDF Chief-of-Staff Shaul Mofaz asked senior PA security officials to allow access to an ambulance or helicopter for his removal, but they refused until after he was dead.

In Sunday's fighting, dozens of Arab demonstrators, including armed Fatah members and PA policemen, hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at the Jewish enclave, and some Arabs fired at the small contingent of border policemen and IDF soldiers inside. The soldiers shot back, reportedly killing a PA policeman.

Today in Nablus, the funeral march for the 20-year-old son of Nablus' governor- attended by some 10,000 - turned into a gun battle when the crowd again headed for Joseph's Tomb. Several Arab residents and members of the PA security forces opened fire on Israeli troops, racing toward the walls of the compound and shooting inside. The Israelis returned fire.

At one point, a firebomb struck the tomb's domed roof, erupting briefly into flames. In addition, an IDF outpost in the city came under fire. Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon warned that unless the PA commanders in Nablus halt the continual shooting at Joseph's Tomb, the IDF will move in with heavier firepower to lift the siege.

Yosef's death sparked an argument among IDF officers last night about whether forcible efforts should have been made to remove him from the site. The IDF charged that the PA bears direct responsibility for the death. There is also the issue of why, in light of past events, the border policemen were not removed earlier from the Joseph's Tomb enclave. During the 1996 Western Wall tunnel disturbances, six border policeman were trapped and killed at the same spot.

Tour groups visiting Joseph's Tomb recently have been accompanied by an Israeli police escort, and transferred from the buses to the Tomb by way of a temporarily erected link- passage way, in order to ensure their safety.

Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

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Worthy Christian News » Israel-Palestinian Conflict » Focus: The Riots in Nablus