David Ha'ivri, a leading figure in Samaria and a resident of Kfar Tapuach, spoke to Arutz Sheva on Friday morning about the arson attack the previous night against Joseph's Tomb in Samaria's Shechem (Nablus).
In the attack, around 150 Arab rioters lit the tomb of the Biblical figure on fire, before Palestinian Authority (PA) forces dispersed them by firing in the air and put out the fire.
But the PA's role in the incident isn't so innocent, according to Ha'ivri. He began by describing the history at the site which, according to the 1994 Oslo Accords, was to be under full Israeli control – until Arab rioters occupied, desecrated and burned down the site in 2000 amid the Second Intifada terror war.
"The IDF did not return to control Joseph's Tomb after the riots and Palestinian take-over of the site in 2000 – the same events in which Border Police Office Midhat Yossuf and Rabbi Hillel Liberman were killed," recalled Ha'ivri.
The IDF instead reduced the Jewish presence to a once-monthly visit, leaving the PA in control. The PA is required to protect Jewish holy sites under its control and allow secure Jewish access according to previous agreements with Israel.
Ha'ivri noted that "not returning to control the site was a political decision of the (Ehud) Barak government, which felt that it was too complicated or costly to control the small compound in the middle of the hostile Area A of the Palestinian Authority domain." Area A refers to areas designated by the Oslo Accords as being under full PA control.
"A media promotion for the PA"
Explaining the recent uptick in attacks on the site, which was targeted by arson as recently as late July, he said, "Joseph's Tomb located in the PA controlled city of Shechem (Nablus) is an 'easy' target for Arab vandals."
"Lacking Israeli protection the PA officials decide when and to what level they provide guard to the site to protect it from damage."
As to why the PA Security Forces chased off the arsonists after initially not preventing the attack, Ha'ivri reasoned that the move was well calculated to try and present the PA as "moderate" amid a wave of Arab terror.
"Had the PA police wished to they could have prevented the arson last night. This sad event seems to be a media promotion meant to show that the official PA government is making an effort to hold back the rage of their population," he said.
The PA has in fact actively called for more terror attacks, belying the late response to the arson at Joseph's Tomb.
The comment echoes the assertions of Samaria Regional Council Head Yossi Dagan, who on Friday morning said, "an incident of this proportion could not have happened at a site like this without the direction or at least the agreement of the Palestinian police."
Ha'ivri's criticism of PA security at the site highlights the problematic status quo at the Tomb. In 2011 Yosef Livnat was murdered at Joseph's Tomb by none other than PA policemen as he visited the holy site with fellow yeshiva students. Livnat was the nephew of former Minister Limor Livnat (Likud).