By Anees Bargouthi
NABLUS, Palestine (AA) - Thousands of extremist Jewish settlers backed by Israeli troops forced their way into a major religious site in the West Bank city of Nablus on Friday triggering clashes with local Palestinians.
"Around 3,000 Jewish settlers forced their way into the site, where they performed Talmudic rituals under the protection of dozens Israeli soldiers," Ahmed Shamekh, an official at the nearby Balata refugee camp, told Anadolu Agency.
The settlers, he said, had been accompanied by members of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament).
Shamekh added that dozens of Palestinian youths -- who had gathered at the site to protest the move -- had been dispersed by Israeli soldiers who fired teargas, rubber bullets and heavy ammunition.
At least ten Palestinian protesters were hurt in the fray, while dozens of others suffered teargas inhalation.
The site, which Jews refer to as "Joseph's Tomb", has long been a flashpoint for violence.
Jews believe the site to be the burial place of the biblical patriarch Joseph. Muslims, however, challenge this assertion, saying an Islamic cleric -- Sheikh Yussef Dawiqat -- was buried at the site two centuries ago.