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Clashes break out during Israeli settler visit to Joseph’s Tomb

Aug. 7, 2017 10:55 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 7, 2017 5:58 P.M.)
(File)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Hundreds of right-wing Israelis entered Joseph's Tomb in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus before dawn on Monday, where they performed religious rituals under heavy military protection.

Palestinian residents of the adjacent Balata refugee camp told Ma’an that large numbers of Israeli troops stormed the area and deployed in the streets and on rooftops before more than 40 buses carrying Israeli settlers arrived and prayed at Joseph's Tomb.

They added that "limited" clashes broke out between Israeli soldiers and dozens of young Palestinian men.

The Israeli soldiers, they said, showered the area in tear gas and fired stun grenades at the Palestinians, who threw stones at military vehicles.

Several young men suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation.

An Israeli army spokesperson said in a statement that approximately 100 Jewish worshipers arrived at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus under military protection. The visit, she added, took place "without mentionable events."

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

As part of security coordination with the PA, the Israeli army allows Jewish worshipers to make monthly pilgrimages to the site -- revered by Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Samaritans -- under armed Israeli military escort, often sparking clashes with local Palestinians.

Like many other Palestinian towns across the West Bank with religiously significant sites, Nablus commonly experiences incursions by Israeli settlers -- who reside in the occupied Palestinian territory in violation of international law -- accompanied by armed escorts, resulting in severe restrictions on freedom of movement for local Palestinians.

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.
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