For first time in 18 years, Jews pray at biblical tombs in Palestinian village
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For first time in 18 years, Jews pray at biblical tombs in Palestinian village

Ultra-Orthodox worshipers enter PA-controlled area near Hebron under IDF guard to commemorate biblical prophets Gad and Nathan

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men pray in front of the Younis mosque, where, according to the Jewish medieval tradition, the graves of the biblical prophets Gad and Nathan are located, in the heart of the West Bank town of Halhul, early on November 19, 2017.  (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men pray in front of the Younis mosque, where, according to the Jewish medieval tradition, the graves of the biblical prophets Gad and Nathan are located, in the heart of the West Bank town of Halhul, early on November 19, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)

Hundreds of Israeli Jews held a rare prayer session by a mosque in a Palestinian village in the West Bank early Sunday, an AFP photographer said.

The Israeli army accompanied buses carrying over 300 ultra-Orthodox men, mostly from the Breslov Hasidic sect, to Younis mosque in Halhul, north of Hebron, where according to Jewish tradition biblical prophets Gad and Nathan are buried.

One worshiper told AFP it was the first time in 18 years that Jews were allowed to pray at the site, deep in a Palestinian-controlled area.

A military spokeswoman said the army and police forces accompanying the worshipers were attacked by Palestinians hurling “rocks and firebombs,” with the forces responding with riot dispersal means to “prevent further escalation.”

No injuries were reported, the spokeswoman said.

Israeli soldiers stand guard as ultra-Orthodox Jewish men, mostly from the Hasidic Breslov sect, arrive to pray in front of the Younis mosque, the site, according to the Jewish medieval tradition, of the graves of the biblical prophets Gad and Nathan in the heart of the West Bank town of Halhul, early on November 19, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)

According to tradition, the graves are located inside the mosque, but the Jewish worshipers did not enter the holy site, rather holding an hour of pre-dawn prayers on the road outside before leaving, the photographer said.

There are a number of sites holy to Jews in Palestinian-controlled areas in the West Bank that are the site of pilgrimages.

Most popular are Rachel’s Tomb near Bethlehem, and the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus.

On Friday, a Palestinian terrorist from Halhul rammed his car into Israeli civilians nearby, wounding two, before trying to stab soldiers and being shot.

The army arrested a number of his family members and imposed a partial closure on the village, which by Sunday had been lifted, the army said.

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