funeral April 24, 2011.
The Funeral of Ben-Joseph Livnat, who was killed in a shooting attack in the West Bank on Sunday, April 24, 2011. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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Nir Keidar
Israeli forces evacuating victims of shooting near Joseph's Tomb on April 24, 2011 Photo by Nir Keidar

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly condemned Sunday the "atrocious" killing of Ben-Joseph Livnat, a 25-year-old father of four and nephew of Culture and Science Minister Limor Livnat in the West Bank, urging the Palestinian Authority to bring those responsible to justice.

Palestinian security forces opened fire early Sunday on three cars full of Israelis who entered the West Bank compound of Joseph's Tomb without permission and then tried to break through a local checkpoint.

Netanyahu demanded in a statement that the PA must take severe steps against the Palestinian policemen who "misbehaved" and opened fire on the Israeli worshipers.

Netanyahu spoke to MK Livnat on Sunday afternoon and expressed his deep condolences for her loss.

Earlier, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that there was no excuse that could justify the Palestinian security forces' fatal use of live fire against the Israelis who entered Joseph's Tomb without authorization.

The security officer on duty claimed that the Israelis, who has failed to coordinate their pilgrimage with Israeli forces, had exhibited "suspicious movement", prompting him to open fire.

"No problem of coordination can justify an incident like this and the shooting of innocent people," Barak said, calling the incident no less than "murder".

A spokesman of the West Bank settlement council declared that Israel could not let the shooting of its citizens by Palestinian security forces pass silently.

"The recent murders of Jews were the result of incitement by the Palestinian Authority, under the leadership of Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas], but this is a murder carried out by the Authority itself, exactly like in the days of [late Palestinian leader Yssser] Arafat," said the spokesman of the Yesha Council of Settlements.

"The defensive wall built by the IDF nine years ago has cracked once again, this time from bullets fire by those who want to be given a state," added the spokesman.

Right-wing MK Michael Ben Ari condemned the shooting immediately and declared that
MKs Ze'ev Elkin and Aryeh Eldad called on the government to "reconsider its good relations with the Palestinian police… which too often creates terror instead of fighting terror."

The Israel Defense Forces officially pulled out of Joseph's Tomb in 2000, at the beginning of the second Palestinian Intifada.

Following years of closure, Jewish worshipers are now able to enter Nablus often with a military escort to pray at the small building traditionally identified as the tomb of the biblical Joseph, located inside a Palestinian-ruled area.

Those visits are coordinated with Palestinian security forces. The Israelis' entrance on Sunday, however, appeared not to have been cleared with either side.

Israeli and Palestinian security forces in the West Bank have close ties. A meeting between the sides was scheduled later Sunday to discuss the incident, the military said.