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From incitement to terror and attempted murder: The PA-Fatah attack on Jewish worshippers at Joseph’s Tomb

Maurice Hirsch, Adv.  |

As Palestinian Media Watch often reports, the Palestinian Authority continuously incites violence and terror. As a general rule, it is often difficult to attribute specific attacks to a particular event, speech, or publication, rather than the general atmosphere of incitement. However, on some occasions even though the incitement is subtle, timing and geographical location leave little doubt that incitement fueled a specific terror attack.

The terror attack carried out by Palestinian terrorists on the night of June 29, in which they attempted to murder Jews visiting the site of Joseph’s Tomb, is a perfect example.

The tomb of the biblical Joseph, son of Jacob, rests in the city of Nablus, which is under the complete control of the PA. It is one of the sites specifically mentioned as a “Jewish Holy Site” in the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Peace Agreement. Agreed security arrangements are meant to “ensure free, unimpeded and secure access to the site” and “ensure the peaceful use of such site, to prevent any potential instances of disorder…” (Article V, annex I, Israeli-Palestinian Interim Peace Agreement).

Despite the explicit commitment, Jews are only permitted to visit the site - usually only once a month - in organized convoys protected by the Israeli army under the cover of darkness. Jews who attempt to enter the site without prior coordination face potential death, as was the case with Ben-Yosef Livnat, who visited the site in April 2011 without coordination, and was killed by members of the PA Security Forces.

In order to prevent even the organized visits, the PA rewrites history, claiming the tomb as an Islamic waqf - i.e., an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law. The visits of Jews to the site are condemned and referred to as “invasions.”

“This historical city [Nablus] contains in its neighborhoods a number of holy sites, and perhaps the most famous of them is the holy site of Prophet Yusuf (i.e., Joseph’s Tomb), which has gained great publicity because of the occupation’s recurring attempts to take control of the site, and [the occupation’s] scaring of the city’s residents through nightly invasions every week on the excuse that the extremist [Jews] visit the site under protection of the occupation army… The site is registered under the name ‘the Holy Site of Prophet Yusuf’ in the Nablus Waqf is an Islamic waqf.”

[Official PA TV, June 25, 2022]

This film was produced by the official PA TV’s Documentary Film Unit.

The PA uses the same terminology to refer to the Temple Mount and the visits of Jews on the mount. The underlying message is clear: These sites are Muslim holy sites and for Muslims only; Jews have no connection to them and have no right to visit them; and believing Muslims should do their utmost to “protect” them.

Just days after the PA broadcast the claim above that Joseph’s Tomb is an “Islamic waqf,” Palestinian terrorists attacked both the convoy of Jewish worshippers entering the site and the worshippers at the site itself. Apparently, the alleged holy status of the site for Muslims does not prevent terrorists from attacking it.

Gloating about the attack, which sent the Jewish worshippers running for cover, the official PA daily declared:

“Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus has stories and narratives and the city has its young people who are resisting the [Jewish] invaders and attackers who have come to it, and are competing among themselves over rejecting all appearances of the occupation. They are armed with the right of the land whose identity they bear and with the right of the homeland that they grew up on loving it and declaring rebellion against the sights of invasions of the city, which came this time on Talmudic (i.e., Jewish) religious pretexts.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 1, 2022]

Fatah, headed by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, also gloated and took responsibility for the attack, saying “The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades: If they say [it] they carry [it] out.” The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades is the internationally designated terror wing of Fatah:

Posted text: “Mere seconds reveal the cohesion and integration that leads the national movement to achieve what is possible in politics in order to impose all types of struggle and resolution.

#The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades: If they say [it] they carry [it] out”

[Official Fatah Facebook page, June 30, 2022]

The video linked to the post shows an Israeli bus entering Nablus coming under fire by automatic weapons.

Video footage posted on the Twitter account of Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) research analyst Joe Truzman, June 30, 2022, shows the Jews at the site of the tomb coming under heavy gunfire and running for cover.

[Twitter account of Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) research analyst Joe Truzman, June 30, 2022]

The internationally designated terror organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) also claimed responsibility for the attack on Joseph’s Tomb saying that it was a response to the death of PIJ terrorist Muhammad Mar’i:

“The Nablus Brigade of the Al-Quds Brigades (i.e., Islamic Jihad’s military wing) took responsibility for the shooting operation that took place in the morning hours today, Thursday [June 30, 2022], in the area of Joseph’s Tomb in eastern Nablus.

In a statement that reached [the independent Palestinian news agency] Safa, the Nablus Brigade explained that the operation came in response to the death of Muhammad Maher Mar’i (i.e., terrorist, shot at Israeli soldiers – see below), a member of the Jenin Brigade, who ascended to Heaven as a Martyr yesterday, Wednesday, on the land of Jenin.”

[Safa, independent Palestinian news agency, June 30, 2022]

The following is a longer excerpt of the report in the official PA daily cited above:

Headline: “Every holy site has its rebelling young people”

“Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus has stories and narratives and the city has its young people who are resisting the [Jewish] invaders and attackers who have come to it, and are competing among themselves over rejecting all appearances of the occupation. They are armed with the right of the land whose identity they bear and with the right of the homeland that they grew up on loving it and declaring rebellion against the sights of invasions of the city, which came this time on Talmudic (i.e., Jewish) religious pretexts.

The settlers announced the date of the new invasion of Nablus in Hebrew media outlets on the pretext of carrying out religious ceremonies at Joseph’s Tomb, while the young people anticipated the date in order to announce for their part on social media the gathering that comes to resist the occupier and its invading settlers.

The night had just begun to fall and already the occupation’s vehicles and the buses that brought the settlers began to invade Nablus two days ago [June 29, 2022]. This was while the young people of the city who anticipated this sight dispersed in a number of the neighborhoods and streets and endangered their lives to defend their city and reject the recurring invasions. They had no means of resistance other than rocks (sic., Palestinian terrorists shot with assault rifles at Jews visiting Joseph’s Tomb, wounding 3) that reverberate louder than the occupation’s vehicles that deliberately pass through to destroy the city’s night, and perhaps to commit a new crime to which a young person who believed that death is liable to be his fate on the night of the invasion will fall victim…

Young Ayman who wrapped himself in a keffiyeh (Arab headdress) did not care about all the narratives regarding Joseph’s Tomb, and all he wanted was to convey the message of rejecting the invasion of his city that is proud of its Palestinian identity. He said: ‘Nablus is Palestinian, and the occupation is insisting on invading the city regularly and spreading blood and death in it. But the voice of the Nablus residents is always loud in defending the city, its holy sites, and everything in it.’ As Ayman prepared to throw the rocks he had gathered at the occupation’s vehicles, he told his friend about the various stories regarding the holy site and emphasized that the only story that he believes in is that the land and everything on it are purely Palestinian.

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 1, 2022]

A waqf is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law. Palestinians define all of Israel as waqf, and thereby Israel exists on Islamic holy land. Palestinian leaders have explained that under Islamic law Muslims are commanded to free the waqf from non-Muslims.

Ben-Yosef Livnat – 24-year-old Israeli civilian who was murdered by three PA Security Forces members when they shot at his car as he was leaving Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus after praying there on April 24, 2011. Four other Israelis in the car were wounded. The terrorists were arrested by Israel in May 2013 after having each served a 1-year prison sentence from the PA.

Muhammad Mar’i – Palestinian terrorist and member of the Islamic Jihad terror organization who, together with other terrorists, shot and threw explosives at Israeli soldiers who were arresting two wanted terror suspects in Jenin on June 29, 2022. The soldiers shot and killed Mar’i in self-defense.

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