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Israeli forces escort 1,000 settlers into Kifl Haris overnight to perform religious rituals

Aug. 21, 2017 1:51 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 21, 2017 6:55 P.M.)
SALFIT (Ma’an) -- Hundreds of Israeli settlers entered the Salfit-area town of Kifl Haris in the central occupied West Bank overnight before dawn Monday, where they performed religious rituals at a holy site in the town as soldiers restricted movement of locals and detained at least one person.

Locals in Kifl Haris told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the town around 10 p.m. and imposed a curfew, ordering residents over loud speakers not to leave their homes.

Forces closed the entrances to the town and set up flying checkpoints, checking the identification of any Palestinians passing through.

According to locals, settlers visited different areas of the town believed by the settlers to be Jewish holy sites, until 4 a.m. Monday morning.

Locals added that Israeli forces raided the house of Suleiman Abu Yaqoub and detained his 20 year-old son Sari after searching breaking down the doors and searching the home.

An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed one detention in Kifl Haris, adding that “security forces escorted the entrance of 1,000 Jewish worshipers to the tomb of Joshua,” overnight. “The prayers took place without exceptional incidents,” the spokesperson said.

Residents of Kifl Haris live under constant tension due to frequent Israeli settler raids on a number of tombs in the village, which Palestinians in the area believe to be the graves of the 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.

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