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20 Palestinians said hurt in clashes with IDF troops securing Nablus holy site

Israeli forces use live fire, rubber bullets, and tear gas on locals who hurled Molotov cocktails and stones at them prior to entry of 1,500 Jewish worshipers to Joseph’s Tomb

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent

Violent clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli security forces that entered Nablus late Wednesday night to secure the northern West Bank city ahead of the pilgrimage of some 1,500 Jewish worshipers to the Joseph’s Tomb holy site.

Twenty locals, including two Palestinian journalists, were injured from IDF efforts to disperse the demonstrators, which included live fire, rubber bullets, and tear gas, the Palestinian news site Ma’an reported.

Footage from the scene shows demonstrators hurling stones and Molotov cocktails at the Israeli convoy entering the city.

There were no reports of injuries among Israeli troops and the IDF said the thousands Jewish worshipers entered and left Joseph’s Tomb without incident.

IDF Samaria Regional Brigade head Sagiv Dahan (L) helps Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan build a sukkah at the Joseph’s Tomb holy site on September 26, 2018. (Roy Hadi)

Joseph’s Tomb is located inside Area A of the West Bank, which is officially under complete Palestinian Authority control, though the Israeli military conducts activities there on its own volition. The IDF bars Israeli citizens from entering Area A without prior authorization.

The site is venerated by Jews, Christians and Muslims, and has often been a flashpoint for sectarian violence. Jewish pilgrims are usually only allowed to visit the tomb once a month under heavy-armed guard. During these visits, Palestinians routinely throw rocks at the troops, and sometimes attack them with Molotov cocktails and gunfire.

Separately, the army said that it arrested 11 Palestinians suspected of “involvement in terror activity” in raids throughout the West Bank overnight Wednesday-Thursday.

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