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Israeli settlers raid village to visit shrine amid restrictions for Palestinian locals

Dec. 29, 2016 11:41 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 29, 2016 4:29 P.M.)
SALFIT (Ma’an) -- Israeli settlers escorted by Israeli forces raided the town of Kifl Haris in the central occupied West Bank district of Salfit to pray at shrines late Wednesday night, locals said.

Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that hundreds of Israeli settlers raided the town shouting slogans and singing songs after midnight and performed prayers at the shrines.

Israeli forces obstructed the movement of Palestinian residents in the town and installed flying checkpoints at roads to secure the settlers’ visit.

The Israeli army confirmed in a statement that they escorted the Israeli settlers to protect them.

Residents of Kifl Haris have been living a continuous tension due to Israeli settlers’ raids to allegedly visit Jewish religious sites.

A number of tombs exist in Kifl Haris, which Palestinians in the area believe to be the graves of Muslim prophet Dhul-Kifl, the Sufi saint Dhul-Nun, and another shrine built by 12-century Sultan Saladin.

However, some Jews believe the tombs belong to the biblical figures Joshua, Caleb and Nun.

Like many other Palestinian towns across the West Bank with religiously significant sites, Kifl Haris, situated on the main road connecting the illegal Ariel settlement to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, commonly experiences incursions by Israeli settlers accompanied by armed escorts.

Settlers who visit the tombs to pray often actively disrupt Palestinian residents and damage property.

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

Separately, Israeli army forces detained five Palestinians during overnight raids Thursday across the occupied West Bank, according Israeli army sources.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that forces detained one Palestinian from Qalqiliya in the north western West Bank, one Palestinian from the Beituniya town east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and three Palestinians from the southern West Bank Hebron-area village of Beit Ula.
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