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Israeli forces, settlers raid Palestinian village to visit shrine

March 12, 2017 12:53 P.M. (Updated: March 12, 2017 11:04 P.M.)
(File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces reportedly raided the Palestinian town of Kifl Haris in the central occupied West Bank district of Salfit on Sunday morning to provide protection for Israeli settlers visiting a site believed to be a Jewish shrine.

According to a report in Hebrew from Israeli news site Arutz Sheva, chief of the illegal Nablus-area settlement bloc Yossi Dagan and Eli Shapiro, the chief of the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel, were among the visitors to the tomb of Joshua. The Israel army's commander in the Nablus area was also reportedly among the visitors.

Residents of Kifl Haris have been living under continuous tension due to Israeli settlers’ raids to visit 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.

The raid came as Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip were placed under a lockdown, with Israeli forces only permitting humanitarian and special cases to pass in and out of the territory, due to the Jewish holiday of Purim.

Severe restrictions on movement for Palestinians are typically implemented by Israeli authorities during Jewish holidays for alleged security purposes.

Last year during Purim, Israel shut down all checkpoints in the occupied territory, while Palestinians were also restricted access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem with all Palestinian men younger than 50 denied entry to the site.
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