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Palestinian youth injured with live fire during clashes near Joseph's Tomb

Dec. 26, 2016 12:56 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 27, 2016 12:47 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- A Palestinian youth was injured with live fire by Israeli forces during clashes Monday at dawn near the Balata refugee camp south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, as hundreds of Israeli settlers visited Joseph’s Tomb, located near the refugee camp.

Local sources told Ma’an that Mahdi Dweikat, 20, was injured by with live bullets in his foot, while others suffered from suffocation due to severe tear gas inhalation.

Sources added that more than 15 buses, heavily escorted by armed Israeli forces, carrying Israeli settlers arrived at Joseph’s Tomb, where the settlers stayed and worshiped until early morning hours of Monday.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that overnight the Israeli army escorted the entrance of Israeli worshipers to Joseph's Tomb.

"During the pilgrimage, several riots erupted while rioters hurled firebombs, rocks, and rolled burning tires nat Israeli forces," the spokesperson said.

"Israeli forces identified a Palestinian hurling a fire bomb, and in response fired towards him. He was likely injured and evactuated to a hospital."

Joseph’s Tomb is located in Area A, the 18 percent of the West Bank officially under full PA control. However, Israeli forces regularly carry out military activities in Area A, in breach of the Oslo Accords.

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.

Palestinian security forces very rarely apprehend Israelis in the occupied Palestinian territory, as they do not have jurisdiction over Israeli citizens.

As a result, violations by Israeli settlers or soldiers against Palestinians often go unpunished, as Israeli authorities rarely prosecute Israeli citizens in such cases, or issue light sentences, which has been criticized by activists and rights groups as fostering a “culture of impunity.”

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