Hundreds of Israelis, including large numbers of settlers, converged on religious sites across the occupied West Bank this morning ahead of the Jewish holiday of Purim, in visits Palestinians condemned as “provocative”, Ma’an reported.
Israeli settlers and right-wing groups held celebrations in Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque.
Locals told Ma’an that during the celebrations, which began late yesterday, the settlers “provocatively” used the mosque’s loudspeakers “to sing racist songs that call for the expulsion of Arabs from Hebron.”
The settlers were under the heavy protection of Israeli forces, who closed off the premises, preventing Palestinians from entering the mosque, and restricted access to the surrounding area.
Some Israeli media sites reported that as many 7,000 Israelis celebrated at the holy site, known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
Clashes broke out near the Balata camp, east of Nablus, when hundreds of Israelis, including settlers, visited Joseph’s Tomb under military escort, Palestinian security sources said.
As many as 500 Israelis arrived in 10 buses at dawn, sources said. Local youths from the camp hurled stones at the occupation’s military jeeps, while soldiers fired tear gas at them. A number of protesters reportedly suffered excessive tear gas inhalation, although no other injuries were reported.
An Israeli army spokesperson had no immediate information on the reports.
Israel has placed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank during the Jewish festival of Purim.