The worshippers broke some tombstones, and wrote “Death to Arabs” on others. Noaf, a resident of a nearby village, said that the worshippers arrived at the cemetery escorted by soldiers.
“Several of them entered a nearby Muslim cemetery, broke tombstones, and wrote things on them such as “Death to Arabs”. I don’t know exactly how many tombstones were desecrated. We were under curfew during their worship time, and they came and did this,” he said.
Rabbi Arik Asherman, head of Rabbis for Human Rights, denounced the incident. “As rabbis, we protest this desecration and are reminded of our pain when such acts are committed against us.”
According to an official IDF response, the entry of Jewish worshippers into the cemetery was authorized in order to allow them to visit the Yeshua Ben Nun tomb nearby.
“On the whole, about 1,300 people entered the place, most acting wonderfully, as is appropriate upon entering a sacred place. Unfortunately, a handful of worshippers chose to create a provocation and vandalize Palestinian graves,” the IDF statement said.
The IDF also said that an official complaint was sent to the worshippers’ leaders. “The IDF has agreed with leaders of the worshippers that they would be responsible for repairing the damages as early as next week.”