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PA forces 'arrest 5 settlers in Nablus'

Jan. 27, 2012 2:46 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 28, 2012 12:33 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority security forces detained five Israeli settlers in the northern West Bank in the early hours of Friday morning, officials said.

The settlers, who hold US passports, tried to enter Joseph's Tomb, the site where some believe the biblical figure Joseph was buried, Palestinian officials told Ma'an.

They were questioned and handed over to Israeli liaison officials, local officials said, adding that the visitors were unarmed. An Israeli police spokesman did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The tomb, near Balata refugee camp, is in an area under PA control but the settlers had not coordinated the visit with PA security forces.

The Israeli army provides regular escorted visits to the religious site, coordinated with PA security forces, but extremist settlers have challenged any restrictions on their access to the tomb, located inside Nablus city.

Earlier this month, an Israeli court charged four men with making unauthorized visits to the tomb. They had made several trips to the site in 2008, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

It was the first case pursued by the courts for unauthorized entry to Nablus.
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