Thousands pray at Joseph’s Tomb near Nablus in the West Bank
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Thousands pray at Joseph’s Tomb near Nablus in the West Bank

Soldiers protect worshipers from rioting Palestinians trying to prevent Jewish entry to shrine

Thousands of worshipers visit Joseph's Tomb near Nablus on May 11, 2018. (IDF)
Thousands of worshipers visit Joseph's Tomb near Nablus on May 11, 2018. (IDF)

Some 3,000 Jewish worshipers visited Joseph’s Tomb, outside the West Bank city of Nablus, overnight Thursday, guarded by IDF troops, to mark the traditional anniversary of the Biblical figure’s death, the army said.

The anniversary is traditionally marked on the 41st day of the Omer — the seven-week period between the festivals of Passover and Shavuot.

Busloads of visitors arrived at the site as the soldiers dealt with violent riots by Palestinians trying to prevent their entry to the shrine.

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. The IDF bars Israeli citizens from entering Area A without prior authorization.

IDF troops guard thousands of worshipers praying at Joseph’s Tomb near Nablus on May 11, 2018. (IDF)

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.

Also overnight Thursday, IDF soldiers, Shin Bet security service operatives, and police arrested three West Bank Palestinians suspected of involvement in terrorist activities and violent disturbances against civilians and soldiers, the military said.

Soldiers also arrested a Palestinian suspected of throwing a Molotov cocktail near the West Bank village of Kafr Azzun, outside Qalqilya.

Shots were fired at an army post near the central West Bank town of Al-Bireh, and troops found casings but there were no injuries or damage.

In the northern West Bank town of Kafr Ra’i, near Jenin, troops confiscated thousands of shekels in cash suspected as having been earmarked to fund terrorism, the army said.

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