Clashes erupted early Thursday between Palestinians and Israeli security forces at Joseph's Tomb in the northern West Bank, as some 1,400 Jewish worshipers gathered for prayers at the holy site.
The worshipers entered the compound near Nablus under tight security, supervised by both Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Border Police forces. Entrance to Jews is restricted to special circumstances only.
Palestinians in the area began hurling stones at the outer circle of security forces as the worshipers made their way into the compound, and the troops fired tear gas at them in response.
Palestinians then began shooting at the troops who returned live fire, the army said. At least seven Palestinians were wounded in the clashes, which witnesses said spilled over into the nearby Askar refugee camp. Four people were arrested during the clashes, Palestinians said.
A Palestinian casualty who was shot during the clashes at Joseph's Tomb tried to flee, but was caught by the Israeli security forces. He was treated by troops for moderate-to-serious wounds, and transferred to Israel for further medical attention.
Also overnight, IDF forces arrested five Palestinians in the West Bank.
In 2011, the IDF decided to allow organized access to the site every three weeks.
The IDF prefers to allow access to the tomb once a month, while the settlers want once a week. The settlers say a lack of organized visits increases the motivation to risk visiting the tomb illicitly.
In 2011, Israeli Ben-Yosef Livnat, the nephew of Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat – was killed and five other Israelis were wounded when Palestinians opened fire on worshipers at the site.
The Shin Bet and the Israel Defense Forces arrested three members of the Palestinian security services in June for involvement in that attack.
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