Hundreds of Jews were visiting the holy site in Shechem for the first time in nearly two months.
Israeli forces were working Wednesday evening to secure the entry of worshipers to Joseph’s Tomb near the Samarian city of Shechem amidst gun-battles with Palestinian militants.
Armed Palestinians targeted both the hundreds of Jewish worshipers coming to the religious site and the Israeli forces protecting them, the military’s Army Radio reported. It is the first time Jewish worshipers have been allowed back to the compound since June 30, when Palestinian gunmen opened fire on Israeli forces and worshipers in a separate attack, injuring three.
There were no immediate reports of damage to the Tomb.
The latest clashes began with the entry of Israeli forces into the city, according to Army Radio. Israeli forces have responded to militant fire, with one Palestinian killed and several wounded. No Israeli injuries have been reported.
Israeli forces arrested two wanted individuals overnight Tuesday, as part of a broader counter-terrorism operation in Samaria, the military said hours earlier.
Last week, Ibrahim al-Nabulsi — believed to have been a commander in the US-designated terrorist group al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade — was killed in a shootout with Israeli forces in Shechem. He was suspected of carrying out shooting attacks against civilians and soldiers around Shechem, the military said.
Joseph’s Tomb and the city of Shechem have both been hot-spots for militant activity in recent months, as Israel has accelerated operations in the Palestinian territories following a string of deadly terrorist attacks that began earlier in the summer, with more than 60 Israelis killed or injured.
Last month, Israeli forces thwarted a suspected stabbing attack at Tapuah Junction, a major intersection in the Samaria. The attempted attack came hours after violent clashes broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants. Two members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades were killed, while at least six others were injured.
In April, Palestinian extremists vandalized the Tomb. That incident came on the second night that IDF special forces were engaged in counterterrorism operations in Samaria, apprehending suspects involved in terrorist activities and confiscating illegal weapons.
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