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3 Palestinians injured in clashes as hundreds of Israelis pray at Joseph's Tomb

April 7, 2016 3:40 P.M. (Updated: April 8, 2016 10:36 A.M.)

NABLUS (Ma’an) -- An estimated 1,000 right-wing Israelis escorted by Israeli forces prayed at Joseph’s Tomb in the northern occupied West Bank on Wednesday evening, leading to clashes in which at least three Palestinians were injured.

Locals told Ma’an at least three Palestinian youths were injured by live fire and rubber-coated steel bullets, while others suffered from tear gas inhalation during clashes that erupted after a large group of Israelis arrived at the shrine east of Nablus.

Israeli forces also raided students housing compounds in Nablus and interrogated some students.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that approximately 20 buses filled with Israeli worshipers escorted by soldiers went to Joseph's Tomb overnight to pray when a group of Palestinian "rioters" threw rocks and Molotov cocktails. 

She added that Israeli troops used "riot dispersal means" against the Palestinians, and that the army had no record of any Israeli or Palestinian injuries during the confrontation.

Israeli settlers frequently visit Joseph's Tomb under the protection of Israeli forces.

During the visits, Israeli forces regularly raid Palestinian villages in the area and fire tear gas canisters into the nearby Balata refugee camp.

Joseph's Tomb is revered by Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Samaritans alike. The Israeli military allows Jews to visit as part of organized pilgrimages, despite the shrine being located in area A under full Palestinian Authority control, and prohibit Muslims from worshiping on the site.

Ultra-orthodox and nationalist Jews regularly try to visit the shrine without approval, as many Jews believe the tomb to be the final resting place of the biblical figure in the Old Testament.

Palestinians believe that Joseph's Tomb is the funerary monument to Sheikh Yousef Dweikat, a local religious figure. 

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