© Tovah LazaroffBirds eye view of Joseph's tomb in Nablus
Soldiers discovered the swastikas when they went to tomb to prepare for the arrival of worshipers to the tomb in advance of Yom Kippur.

Vandals painted two swastikas on Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, the IDF reported on Thursday.

Soldiers discovered the swastikas when they went to the tomb on Wednesday night to prepare for the arrival of worshipers to the tomb in advance of Yom Kippur.

Although the Palestinian Authority controls Nablus, permission has been granted for Jews to visit the tomb once a month, late at night under IDF escort. Around 1,300 worshipers visited the tomb before dawn on Thursday.

The IDF painted over the graffiti before the pilgrims arrived, but the vandalism was still evident and settlers publicized the incident, which comes after an arson attack on a mosque in the Beduin village of Tuba Zanghariya in the Upper Galilee.

In response to the vandalism at Joseph's Tomb, right-wing politicians, settler leaders and activists called on the government to take back sovereignty in Nablus, which is located on the site of the biblical city of Shechem.

The incident did not illicit the same outrage as the Tuba Zanghariya incident, they noted.

The National Union said the swastika vandalism was an "embarrassment" to the country.

Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said that the vandalism had occurred almost on the same date, 11 years ago, that Israel had withdrawn from the tomb after six Palestinians and one Israeli, the Border Police's Cpl. Madhat Yusuf, 19, from Beit Jann, were killed in clashes there.

"The Palestinian police can not be relied on.

Only under Israeli rule can the place be kept intact and the freedom to worship be observed," Dayan said.

The left-wing group Gush Shalom also condemned the vandalism.

"The swastika is the despicable symbol of a murderous racist ideology, and it goes without saying that daubing this symbol anywhere in the world is a vile deed - all the more so at a location holy to the Jewish religion," its spokesman Adam Keller said.

"Joseph's Tomb at the heart of the city of Nablus is a place sacred to Judaism, and the desire of religious Jews to visit it is completely legitimate," he said. Keller said that although Nablus was a Palestinian city and essential to the "State of Palestine," it was important for the tomb to be protected and open to all believers, Jews or Muslim.