Jerusalem24 – A Palestinian child was killed during confrontations that erupted between Palestinian youth and armed fighters and the Israeli military at the site of Yusuf’s Tomb on the outskirts of Nablus in the occupied West Bank last night.
15-year-old Mahdi Mohammad Hamdallah Hashash, from Balata refugee camp in Nablus, died of severe injuries caused by shrapnel that hit his abdomen and legs.
According to information provided by sources on the ground, and the nature of his injuries as reported by the Palestinian Ministry of Health, it seems likely the boy was carrying an IED which detonated for an undetermined reason.
The Balata Brigade armed group in Nablus has claimed the teenager as one of their fighters.
A further 57 Palestinians were injured due to tear gas suffocation and three were shot with rubber-coated bullets during a visit to the site by far-right Israeli lawmakers in coordination with the Israeli military.
Palestinian armed group The Lions’ Den issued a statement this morning announcing their involvement in last night’s confrontations. They had issued a call to resistance from local residents earlier in the evening after the planned visit was announced in Israeli media.
Yusuf’s Tomb is the site of frequent incursions by Israeli settlers, invariably resulting in confrontations between the Israeli military who are present to provide protection for the settlers, and local Palestinian youth and armed fighters.
Another two Palestinian teenagers, 16-year-old Ghaith Yamin and 18-year-old Waseem Khalifa, were shot and killed by the Israeli military this year during Israeli settler invasions of Yusuf’s Tomb and ensuing confrontations.
Last night’s political event was meant to “highlight the election victory” of the incoming MKs, according to Israeli security officials quoted by Haaretz, and would also provide a platform for the extremist lawmakers to “express statements that are likely to ignite tensions.”
The far-right lawmakers’ visit to the site was approved by an Israeli army division commander yesterday afternoon despite objections from senior officials.
Several prominent members of the Likud, Otzma Yehudit (far-right extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir’s party) and the anti-LGBT Shas party were set to attend at the invitation of Yossi Dagan, the head of the Israeli settlers’ Samaria Regional Council and himself an extremist settler who has called for annexing the occupied West Bank and publicly supported far-right conspiracist Steve Bannon’s appointment as White House Chief Strategist in former President Trump’s administration in 2016.
Dagan has previously stated, “We won’t relinquish our grip on Joseph’s Tomb.”
Joseph or Yusuf?
The Israeli military usually provides strict protection to Israeli settlers during their incursions into the archeological site of Yusuf’s Tomb.
Although last night’s event was political in nature, most settler visits involve performing prayers at the site of what the settlers claim is the tomb of the patriarch Joseph.
Archeologists have cast doubt on whether the site has any association with the patriarch Joseph, believing the tomb to be only a few hundred years old and possibly containing the remains of a Muslim Sheikh named Yusuf.
According to the Institute for Palestine Studies, “the history of Joseph’s Tomb belies Israeli claims about its identity as a Jewish holy site. It is one of many shrines across historic Palestine – now split into Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza – that has been re-invented as exclusively Jewish, despite a long history of shared worship among Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Samaritans that goes back centuries.”