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Israeli forces raid Kifl Haris overnight for religious visit

April 25, 2014 3:16 P.M. (Updated: April 26, 2014 11:55 A.M.)
SALFIT (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces stormed the village of Kifl Haris on Friday in order to escort a large group of Jewish Israelis to the village as they visited three religious sites in the northern West Bank village.

Israeli forces erected checkpoints throughout the village and blocked major intersections throughout the raid, which began around midnight and lasted until sunrise.

During this time, locals were prevented from moving freely through the streets, and they said that the members of the visiting Jewish group "provoked" locals who did venture out.

The soldiers escorted hundreds of religious Jews, who locals said yelled in the streets of the village and chanted anti-Arab slogans during their visit.

An Israeli army spokesman confirmed the visit, saying that the military has "coordinated the entrance of several hundred Israeli civilians" to Joshua's tomb.

A number of tombs exist in Kifl Haris that are believed to be the graves of local holy people but which some Jews believe to be the tombs of biblical figures Joshua, Caleb, and Nun.

Palestinians who live in the area, however, consider these shrines to be the graves of the prophet Dhul-Kifl, the Sufi saint Dhul-Nun, and another shrine built by Saladin.

Visits by Israeli Jews to sites in areas under Palestinian control across the West Bank often cause tensions with locals, as these visits are accompanied by large armed escorts.

Palestinians are restricted from visiting holy sites in Israel, meanwhile, without hard-to-obtain permits from government authorities.

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