Joseph's Tomb set ablaze in Nablus amid Palestinian calls for 'revolution'
Palestinians have torched a site in the West Bank revered by Jews and others worldwide in an incident that threatens to further inflame more than two weeks of deadly unrest, as fresh protests were planned for Friday.
The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, under pressure over recent comments that some have labelled incitement, quickly condemned the fire at the site known as Joseph’s Tomb in the northern city of Nablus.
Video showed what looked like an extensive blaze and the Israeli army called it “a despicable act” of desecration.
The arson came as Palestinians called for a “Friday of revolution” against Israel, and Jerusalem police barred men under 40 from attending the main weekly prayers at the flashpoint al-Aqsa mosque, seeking to keep young protesters away.
Israeli security forces have deployed massively in Jerusalem after two weeks of Palestinian attacks in the city and across Israel. From Sunday, some 300 soldiers will reinforce police numbers.
The last time soldiers deployed in such large numbers was in 2002, during the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada, according to a security source.
The United Nations security council will hold an emergency meeting at Jordan’s request on Friday to discuss the upsurge of violence.
The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, on Thursday reiterated his willingness to meet Abbas, while accusing him of inciting and encouraging violence.
“It’s time President Abbas stops not only justifying it, but also calling for it,” Netanyahu told reporters.