A prominent Israeli leader likened the Palestinian Authority to ISIS in the wake of an attempt Friday to burn down a site revered by Jews as the tomb of the Biblical patriarch Joseph.
Severe damage was reported, but there were no injuries.
“The arson of Joseph’s Tomb tonight proves that the management of the Palestinian Authority is no different from that of ISIS,” said Avigdor Lieberman, a former foreign minister under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“After the Palestinian youths took machetes and knives to kill Jews now they’re also burning holy places and historical heritage sites, just like ISIS members do to heritage sites of the human civilization in Iraq and Syria,” Lieberman said.
About 150 Palestinian rioters started the fire Friday, which was extinguished by Palestinian forces prior to the arrival of Israel Defense Force members.
“Every human should be shocked and express disgust at this barbaric act. Joseph’s Tomb is one of the holiest sites to the Jewish nation, and a historical asset of humanity at large,” said Samaria Regional Council Head Yossi Dagan.
“An incident of this proportion could not have happened at a site like this without the direction or at least the agreement of the Palestinian police,” he said.
Dagan and Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel called for action to prevent any future arsons.
“I call on the prime minister to return the control of Joseph’s Tomb to the hands of Israel,” he said “Even as the Palestinians shamelessly lie about (Israel) harming the status quo on the Temple Mount, they themselves are burning and desecrating the holy sites of Israel, and this cannot be forgiven,” said Ariel.
The site has a complex history. The 1994 Oslo accord gave the site to Israel, but it was handed over to the Palestinian Authority after the site was ransacked and burned during the 2000 Intifada.
The Palestinian Authority is required to protect Jewish holy sites under its control, and to allow secure access for Jewish worshippers. Jews attend Joseph’s Tomb to pray about once a month. In 2011, a Jewish worshipper there was killed by Palestinian Authority police. Palestinian rioters had tried to burn down the site in July.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has destroyed the tomb of Biblical Jonah, according to Arabic media outlets, in a show of disdain for non-Islamic cultures.
“ISIS militants have destroyed the Prophet Younis (Jonah) shrine east of Mosul city after they seized control of the mosque completely,” a security source, who kept his identity anonymous, told the Iraq-based al-Sumaria News Thursday. “The militants closed all of the mosque doors and prevented worshipers from entering to pray.”
A witness who did not wish to give his name said that ISIS militants “first stopped people from praying in it, they fixed explosive charges around and inside it and then blew it up in front of a large gathering of people,” according to AFP. Mosul residents told AFP it took ISIS terrorists a full hour to rig the shrine with explosives before setting it ablaze. The shrine has reportedly been turned to “dust,” an anonymous eyewitness stated.
Jonah the Prophet is known as the paradigmatic example of teshuva, repentance, in the Bible, and his story is recorded in the Koran as well. According to Al-Arabiya, Jonah’s tomb was dated to the eighth century BCE, and his tomb was also one of the many historic mosques said to have been destroyed by ISIS Islamists. A local Mosul official, Zuhair al-Chalabi, also told Iraqi news outlets last week that Prophet Daniel’s tomb was also destroyed. While Muslims reportedly consider Daniel a Prophet, he is not mentioned in the Koran.