Dozens of masked Israelis youth clashed with Palestinian in the West Bank village of Hawara on Sunday, hours after an Israeli was killed and three others wounded when Palestinian security forces opened fire on them near the holy site of Joseph's Tomb.
The Israelis approached the village and began throwing stones at Palestinian vehicles, lightly wounding a child. The angry youth torched a car and tried to burn down a house, but were stopped after large security forces were deployed in the area.
The Israel Defense Forces closed off the village to traffic, prompting some of the youth to shout: "You helped the murderers. Take off your uniforms and come with us."
Palestinian security forces shot at three cars that apparently tried to break through a roadblock near Joseph's tomb, according to an initial investigation. Ben-Joseph Livnat, a 25-year-old father of four and nephew of Culture and Science Minister Limor Livnat, was killed in the shooting. Three other people were wounded, and are in light to serious conditions.
Livnat and the other three casualties were part of a group of some 15 worshipers who entered the site in three separate cars without military authorization. A Palestinian Authority representative said that the officer fired into the air because he believed that the group was acting suspiciously, but did not aim at the car.
"The main problem is that they [the Israelis] entered the city without coordination," said Jibril al-Bakri, the Palestinian governor of Nablus.
The tomb, which some believe to be the final resting place of the Biblical patriarch Joseph, is located in an area of the West Bank under full Palestinian control.
The tomb was attacked and ransacked by Palestinians at the start of the Palestinian uprising in 2000, and one of the Israeli policemen stationed there was killed.
After 2003, Jews were allowed intermittent access, which was expanded in 2009 to one coordinated monthly midnight visit.
Despite military warnings, flocks of Bratslav Hasidim and other religious pilgrims routinely enter the compound to pray without permission, often late at night. Shots have been fired in the past at such groups entering without authorization.
Security forces have tried to crack down on the unauthorized pilgrimages and have in the past arrested trespassers, though every detainee has been released within hours without significant penalty.
A military spokesman on Sunday stressed that the army coordinated a monthly pilgrimage to the site for hundreds of worshipers, to give them authorized and secure access to the site. One such visit was held just two weeks ago, said the spokesman.
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