NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Hundreds of Israelis performed religious rituals at Joseph’s Tomb before dawn on Thursday in the occupied West Bank district of Nablus, as at least two Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces when clashes broke out in the area.
Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that more than 1,000 Israelis escorted by Israeli forces arrived at Joseph’s Tomb near the Balata refugee camp on Wednesday night and prayed at the religious site until dawn.
The visit by Israelis comes during the Jewish high holidays, during the week-long holiday of Sukkot.
Clashes erupted between Israeli soldiers and local Palestinian youth. Palestinian medical sources told Ma’an that during the clashes, one Palestinian was shot with metal jacket bullet to the stomach.
He was taken to the Rafidia hospital in Nablus, where his injury was described as moderate.
Another Palestinian suffered from minor suffocation due to inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli forces in the area.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that Israeli forces escorted around 1,000 Jewish worshipers to Joseph’s Tomb, when “a number of violent riots” erupted.
The spokesperson said that Israeli forces dispersed the Palestinian protesters, but did not have further information on injuries, nor on the means used against the Palestinians.
Joseph's Tomb -- revered by Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Samaritans -- is the site of regular visits by Israelis, who are escorted by Israeli military forces to the area, often leading to clashes with local Palestinians.
Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, Joseph's Tomb was to remain under Israeli control, but the Palestinian Authority (PA) took over the site after the Israeli army withdrew during the Second Intifada.
As part of security cooperation with the PA, the Israeli army allows Jewish worshipers to make monthly pilgrimages to the site.
However, ultra-Orthodox and nationalist Jews also 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 Yousef Dweikat, a local religious figure.