Israeli occupation forces are routinely “imposing draconian restrictions” on Palestinian residents of Balata refugee camp in Nablus, in order to protect Jewish worshippers visiting Joseph’s Tomb.
During August-October, Israeli NGO B’Tselem “documented incidents in which soldiers accompanied Jewish worshippers on visits to Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, imposing sweeping restrictions on the movement of Palestinian residents,” and using tear gas and opening fire on Palestinian youth.
“Israel consistently places the interests of the worshippers over those of Palestinian residents,” B’Tselem stated, “as part of the violent daily routine it has maintained in the [occupied Palestinian] Territories for fifty years”.
Joseph’s Tomb is located on the eastern outskirts of Nablus, close to Balata Refugee Camp, and under the Oslo Accords, constitutes an Israeli enclave inside so-called ‘Area A.’
According to B’Tselem, “once every two weeks (and sometimes as often as twice a week, during the Jewish High Holiday season), the Israeli Army accompanies night-time visits to the compound attended by hundreds of Jewish worshippers.”
During these visits, the occupation army “imposes sweeping restrictions on the freedom of movement of Palestinian residents in the area, who become prisoners in their own homes.”
For many years, B’Tselem said, “Israel has preferred the interests of Jewish worshippers to the rights of the Palestinian residents, including their right to security, wellbeing, and their daily routine.” The NGO noted that “this order of priorities is not unique to ‘Joseph’s Tomb.’”
“For fifty years, Israel has maintained a violent daily routine in the Territories. All the Israeli authorities act above the heads of the Palestinian residents, who are completely excluded from decision-making processes relating to their lives.”
A combination of “the lack of political representation for Palestinians and the imposition of an Israeli law enforcement system that consistently prevents action against those who harm Palestinians means that there are virtually no limits on physical or administrative violence, and allows all aspects of their lives to be harmed,” B’Tselem added.