When they saw their bus was under attack, the hasidim left the bus and tried to reach the tomb on foot, but they put themselves under greater danger since a shootout was taking place between Palestinian police and a gang near the Palestinian Autonomy Jenaid prison, where many Hamas supporters are imprisoned. Palestinian police who tried to stop the rioters were unsuccessful.
The hasidim had to alert the military who intervened to rescue them. Israeli police and IDF forces who came to the scene evacuated all the hasidim by 4:30 a.m. and detained 32 of the pilgrims for questioning. Many of them seemed to be shellshocked, not believing that they had come to such a life-threatening situation.
The tomb is located inside Area A of the West Bank, under complete Palestinian Authority control. Israeli citizens are prohibited from entering Area A without prior authorization. Jews are allowed to visit the site once a month under heavy armed guard.
After the incident, police and army cautioned Israeli citizens against entering Area A of the West Bank without army escort. “We consider last night’s incident to be very serious, entry [into Area A] without coordination and without security protection is dangerous for those who go in and for the security forces that go into to rescue and is a criminal offense.”
Joseph’s Tomb has been a flashpoint in the past, with Palestinians frequently defacing, torching, or destroying the shrine and attacking Jewish visitors to it. In the past year, Palestinians mounted attacks at the shrine in June and October.