Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian protesters while Israelis prayed at Joseph’s Tomb on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Nablus late Monday night, as Jewish worshipers entered a holy site for a monthly pilgrimage.
The fighting broke out as troops and police escorted 17 busloads of Israelis to the reputed burial site of the biblical patriarch Joseph near the Tel Balata archaeological site adjacent to Nablus.
The IDF said there were several bouts of violence during the visit, all of which were quelled by troops. It said there were no injuries.
The tomb is venerated by Jews, Christians and Muslims and has often been a flash point for sectarian violence. Jewish pilgrims are allowed to visit the site once a month under heavy army guard.
In October, the site was torched by Palestinian rioters in an incident condemned by Israeli leaders and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Following that incident, around 30 Israelis tried to access the site without prior coordination with the army, ostensibly to check the damage. Five members of the group were accosted by Palestinian security forces and beaten before being handed over to Israel, and the IDF extricated the rest of the Israelis. Palestinians pulled the five from their cars and then torched one of the vehicles, reports said.
Joseph’s Tomb, just east of Nablus, is located in Area A, which means the Palestinian Authority has full security and civilian control there. The Oslo Accords designated Joseph’s Tomb as one of two holy Jewish sites that could remain under Israeli control in Area A.
Also on Monday night, Israeli troops arrested 13 wanted Palestinians all over the West Bank, including four activists in the Hamas terror organization. The men were taken for questioning.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.