In the past several years, Jews visiting the holy site of Joseph's Tomb in the city of Nablus in the West Bank have been targeted by Palestinian rioters and gunmen.
The most recent attack took place on December 21, when Jewish worshippers and the Israeli soldiers guarding them came under heavy gunfire.
According to Palestinian sources, during the Palestinians' attempt to prevent the Jews from entering the holy site, one gunman, Ahmed Atef Daraghmeh, was killed and four others injured.
The Oslo Accords, signed in 1993 and 1995 between Israel and the Palestinians, placed Nablus and Joseph's Tomb under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority.
At the beginning of the Second Intifada (uprising), which erupted in 2000, the site was looted and burned by Palestinian rioters. Two years later, after the Israeli army launched a major military operation against Palestinian terrorists in Nablus and other Palestinian cities, Jewish worshippers began intermittently returning to visit the tomb.
Between 2009 and 2010, Joseph's Tomb was renovated, allowing Jewish worshippers to resume their visits.
"2. Both sides [Israel and the Palestinians] shall respect and protect the listed below religious rights of Jews, Christians, Moslems and Samaritans:
a. protection of the Holy Sites;
b. free access to the Holy Sites; and
c. freedom of worship and practice."
According to the same Article:
"3. a. The Palestinian side shall ensure free access to, respect the ways of worship in and not make any changes to, the Jewish Holy Sites..."
The Palestinian Authority, which is in charge of security in Nablus, has nevertheless refused to fulfill its commitment to protect and ensure free access to Joseph's Tomb.
In 2015, hundreds of Palestinians stormed the site and set it on fire. Earlier this year, Palestinians again stormed Joseph's tomb, shattering the tombstone and damaging a chandelier. The following day, two Jewish worshippers were moderately wounded by Palestinian gunfire while trying to enter the site.
The recurring attacks on Joseph's Tomb and the attempts to kill Jewish worshippers appear to be part of Palestinian efforts to deny any Jewish link to Jewish holy sites.
"Joseph's Tomb is an Islamic site, and the Jews have no right to it," claimed Muhannad Sayel, a senior official with the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. "They [the Jews] are trying to falsify history."
In October, the Lions' Den, a terrorist group operating in Nablus under the nose of the Palestinian Authority, threatened to kill any Jew who enters Joseph's Tomb. "[Jewish] settlers are banned from entering Joseph's Tomb," the group warned. "They will be the target of our guns and explosive devices."
Last May, another terror group, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militia affiliated with the ruling Fatah faction headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, claimed responsibility for a shooting attack on Jewish worshippers and the Israeli soldiers guarding them at Joseph's Tomb.
Needless to say, the Palestinian Authority never arrested any of the terrorists from the Lions' Den or the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
Moreover, the attacks and threats against the Jewish worshippers have been ignored by the US administration and most of the international community.
So far, no one has called out the Palestinian Authority for its grave violations of the international commitments signed with Israel ensuring free access to, and the protection of, all holy sites.
Encouraged by the silence of the international community, the Palestinian Authority has been trying to prevent Jews from visiting another holy site, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
As with Joseph's Tomb, the Palestinians deny any link between Jews and the Temple Mount, which is abutted by the Western Wall – a retaining wall, all that is left of the Second Temple (also known as Herod's Temple), destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 CE, as was the First Temple (built by King Solomon) by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in the year 586 BCE. This wall happens to be the holiest site in Judaism where Jews are permitted to pray.
In recent years, Palestinians have been trying to prevent Jews from visiting the Temple Mount. Palestinian rioters have attacked visitors and the police with rocks, fireworks, iron rods, explosive devices and Molotov cocktails.
The Palestinian Authority and PA President Mahmoud Abbas have played a major role in inciting the violence and spreading lies about the Jews visiting the Temple Mount.
In 2015, Abbas declared:
"The Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are ours. They are all ours, and they [the Jews] have no right to defile with them with their filthy feet. We salute every drop of blood spilled for the sake of Jerusalem. This blood is clean, pure blood, shed for the sake of Allah. Every martyr will be placed in Paradise, and all the wounded will be rewarded by Allah."
Instead of denouncing Abbas for his incitement and the Palestinians for their denial of Jewish links to the holy site, the United Nations General Assembly in 2021 approved a resolution that disavowed Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.
Such resolutions embolden the Palestinians to continue their campaign of terrorism against Jewish worshippers.
In 2010, the Palestinian Authority claimed in an official document that the Western Wall -- a retaining wall, all that is left of the Second Temple -- belongs to Muslims alone:
"The Zionist occupation falsely and unjustly claims that it owns this wall, which it calls the Western Wall or Kotel... This wall was never part of the so-called Temple Mount, but Muslim tolerance allowed the Jews to stand in front of it and weep over its destruction. No Muslim or Arab or Palestinian has the right to give up one stone of Al-Buraq [Western] Wall or other religious sites."
Fortunately for Jewish worshippers, Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, are under Israeli sovereignty and security control, guaranteeing free access for Jews, Muslims and Christians to their holy sites.
Without the presence of the Israeli security forces in Jerusalem, Jews would have been attacked and slaughtered every day on their way to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
If the city or these sites were ever to be handed over to the Palestinian Authority, Jewish worshippers would have to visit their holy sites in bullet-proof vehicles accompanied by platoons of soldiers and police officers, as is necessary these days at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus.
The Biden administration and the rest of the international community would do well to wake up to the fact that the Palestinian state they are clamoring for means the continued slaughter of Jews and the denial of their safe access to Jewish holy sites.
Tolerance and freedom of worship are not terms that can be found in the Palestinian lexicon. The Palestinians will be satisfied only when they replace Israel with an Iranian-backed terror state and erase all traces of Jewish history and faith.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East