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

Sept. 22, 2016 3:08 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 23, 2016 2:36 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Hundreds of right-wing Israelis and settlers visited Joseph’s Tomb near the Balata refugee camp east of Nablus city in the early hours of Thursday morning, sparking clashes between local Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers who escorted the settlers.

Local sources reported that 14 buses carrying some 700 Israeli settlers arrived to Joseph’s Tomb under heavy security by Israeli soldiers to perform religious rituals.

Clashes erupted between dozens of Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers near Joseph’s Tomb, with Israeli soldiers firing stun grenades, tear gas canisters, and rubber-coated bullets at youths who threw rocks and empty bottles.

Locals said that a youth was injured by a rubber-coated steel bullet in his leg, while another youth was reportedly detained during clashes.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that “security forces accompanied Jewish pilgrims to Joseph's tomb in Nablus. During the entry, Molotov cocktails and rocks were hurled at the accompanying forces,” denying that anyone had been injured in the incident.

Joseph's Tomb -- revered by Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Samaritans -- is the site of regular visits by Israelis, who are escorted by Israeli military forces to the area, often leading to clashes with local Palestinians.

Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, Joseph's Tomb was to remain under Israeli control, but the Palestinian Authority (PA) took over the site after the Israeli army withdrew during the Second Intifada.

As part of security cooperation with the PA, the Israeli army allows Jewish worshipers to make monthly pilgrimages to the site.

However, ultra-Orthodox and nationalist Jews also 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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