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Clashes erupt as Israeli forces escort hundreds of settlers to pray at Joseph's Tomb

Sept. 28, 2017 8:27 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 29, 2017 4:20 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Clashes erupted Wednesday night near Joseph’s Tomb in the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces, who were escorting hundreds of Israeli settlers to the area to perform religious rituals.

According to locals, Israeli forces fired bullets, tear-gas and stun grenades at the youth who threw rocks and Molotov cocktails.

The Israeli army said in a statement that security forces were “providing security to 1500 Israeli settlers at the Joseph’s Tomb area.”

Israeli settlers frequently visit Joseph's Tomb under the protection of Israeli forces. During the visits, Israeli forces regularly raid Palestinian villages in the area and fire tear gas canisters into the nearby Balata refugee camp.

Joseph's Tomb is revered by Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Samaritans alike. The Israeli military allows Jews to visit as part of organized pilgrimages, despite the site being located in Area A where the Palestinian Authority (PA) has full control, and prohibits Muslims from worshiping at the site.

Ultra-orthodox and nationalist Jews 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 Yousif Dweikat, a local religious figure.

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