Palestinian Muslim Religious Intolerance by Ryan Jones - February 27, 2003 Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Sunday confirmed reports that Palestinian Arabs had reduced to a pile of rubble the tombstone marking the traditional burial place of the biblical patriarch Joseph in the Samarian town of Shechem. While Arab Muslims have for more than two years desecrated the complex surrounding Joseph's Tomb, the actual burial site - the authenticity of which archeologists say is backed by compelling evidence - had until sometime during the past two weeks been left untouched. The site corresponds to the account of Joseph's burial in the land of Israel given in the biblical book of Joshua: "Joseph's bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. This became the inheritance of Joseph's descendants." Under the Oslo Accords, this Jewish and biblical holy site was to remain under Israeli jurisdiction, despite being located in Shechem - an ancient Jewish town now inhabited by Arabs under the control of the Palestinian Authority. On October 7, 2000, however, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak withdrew IDF forces and evacuated Israeli civilians from the site after Arab attacks against Joseph's Tomb intensified as part of the overall Palestinian terrorist war against Israel. PA assurances to Barak that the holy site would be protected from desecration notwithstanding, the official destruction of the Joseph's Tomb complex by the Palestinians began only hours after the last IDF soldiers left as a result of the increased dangers of continuing to guard the tomb. Within hours of the IDF withdrawal, Palestinian Muslims stormed the site - with no visible effort by PA to stop them - destroying all Jewish religious objects, and began tearing apart the stone building over Joseph's Tomb with pick axes. Smoke was later seen rising from site, and the dome over the patriarch's grave received a new coating of "Muslim green" paint as PA bulldozers began clearing the compound area.
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