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Army escorts 300 Israeli citizens into Nablus

Aug. 5, 2010 9:28 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 6, 2010 2:59 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Residents of Nablus were told to stay indoors by Israeli troops patrolling the area just after midnight Thursday, ahead of a mass visit of Jewish worshipers to a tomb in the area.

Witnesses in the Balata refugee camp said 12 Israeli military vehicles entered the area on patrol, clearing the streets of residents. The troops reportedly entered the area from the east at the Beit Furik checkpoint.

Following the incursion, residents near the tomb said six buses pulled up to Joseph's Tomb, believed to be the burial place of the patriarch and his two sons, and decamped alongside 20 military vehicles.

Palestinian security sources said an estimated 300 settlers made the trip, remaining in the area for four hours between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Gaza minister fears tomb to be annexed

Minister of Waqf in the Gaza government Taleb Abu Sha’ar called the a "violation" and "provocative."

Abu Sha'ar said the military measures and the forceful visit to the site was a "violation of the holy place" and took place on the "pretext that the area belongs only to them."

Abu Sha'ar warned that the tomb could become the next target for designation as an Israeli national heritage site, following the spring declaration of the Ibrahimi Mosque, in the West Bank city of Hebron, as a national site. The declaration sparked outrage and concerns that the mosque would be cut off from civilian use.

In 1993 the mosque was partitioned, half was designated for Jewish use and the other half for Muslim use.

3 detained from Nablus area overnight

Israeli forces conducted patrols of several districts in the Nablus area overnight, detaining three men from the town of Asira Ash-Shamaliya, north of Nablus, and took them to unknown destination, Palestinian police officials said.

The men were identified as Fakher Azam Hasan Bara, 35, Muhammad Abdullah Yousif Sawalha, 37, and Usama Hamed Hamdana, 30.

Sources said the homes of the men were entered and searched before they were detained.
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