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Hundreds of settlers escorted to Joseph's Tomb near Nablus

Dec. 3, 2013 10:08 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 4, 2013 1:56 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Hundreds of Israeli settlers escorted by Israeli troops arrived at Joseph's Tomb near Balata refugee camp east of Nablus early Tuesday morning.

Local sources told a Ma'an reporter that ten Israeli military vehicles escorted dozens of settlers' buses to visit the site at dawn in northern West Bank.

Settlers performed religious rites throughout the early morning hours.

While the settlers visited the site, a number of Palestinian young men gathered in the area hurling stones and empty bottles at Israeli soldiers.

No casualties were reported.

Israeli settlers frequently visit Joseph's Tomb under the protection of Israeli forces, who regularly raid local Palestinian villages and fire tear gas into the neighboring Balata refugee camp during these visits.

Despite lying in an area under Palestinian authority deep in the West Bank, Israeli forces maintain control at the site and prohibit Muslims from praying there.

Palestinians believe that Joseph's Tomb is the funerary monument to Sheikh Yusef Dweikat, a local religious figure. Others believe that the tomb belongs to the Biblical patriarch Joseph. The area is sacred to Jews, Samaritans, Christians and Muslims alike.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
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