Israeli forces set up a military base on the roof of a Palestinian house in the Bethlehem district, on Sunday, a Ma’an reporter said.In the village of Tuqu southeast of Bethlehem, Israeli soldiers climbed to the rooftop of a house belonging to Nayef Hussein Moussa.
The soldiers stationed machine guns on the roof and installed cameras to monitor the movement of Palestinians on a road that connects Jerusalem to illegal Israeli settlements in Hebron.
Tuqu’s municipality condemned the Israeli move, calling on the Palestinian military liaison office to intervene.
An Israeli army spokesman did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Also on Easter Sunday, Israeli forces clashed with local Palestinians near Joseph’s Tomb, east of Nablus, according to locals and Palestinian security sources.
The clashes broke after hundreds of Jewish Israelis arrived at Joseph’s Tomb around midnight and performed religious rituals at the site, escorted by dozens of Israeli military vehicles.
Palestinian security sources said more than 30 Israeli military vehicles stormed Nablus before midnight and were deployed around Joseph’s Tomb, near Balata refugee camp, east of the city.
Shortly after that, dozens of buses and private cars belonging to the Jewish Israelis arrived and hundreds began to perform religious rites, staying until early morning hours.
Witnesses said Israeli troops fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades at young Palestinian men who pelted military vehicles with stones and empty bottles.
No injuries or detentions were reported.
Jewish groups frequently visit Joseph’s Tomb under the protection of Israeli forces, who deploy heavily in the area and often get into clashes with youth from the neighboring Balata refugee camp during these visits.
Despite lying in an area under Palestinian authority deep in the West Bank, Israeli forces maintain control at the site and prohibit Muslims from praying there.
Many Palestinians believe that Joseph’s Tomb is the funerary monument to Sheikh Yusef Dweikat, a local religious figure. Others believe that the tomb belongs to the Biblical patriarch Joseph. The area is sacred to Jews, Samaritans, Christians and Muslims alike.
On Friday, dozens of Christian pilgrims suffered from excessive tear gas inhalationafter Israeli troops fired tear gas canisters as they performed religious rites at the Tomb of Lazarus in al-Eizariya, in East Jerusalem.
Israeli soldiers reportedly refused to stop firing tear gas canisters despite the presence of pilgrims after clashes had broken out between local youths and Israeli forces in the area.
Witnesses told Ma’an that a tour guide who was escorting the pilgrims asked an Israeli officer to stop firing tear gas canisters until pilgrims left, but the officer continued to fire. The pilgrims had to take shelter in a souvenir shop before they could complete their prayers.
The owner of the souvenir shop also tried to convince the Israeli officer to stop firing tear gas so that the pilgrims could leave, but instead the officer ‘asked a soldier to fire tear gas canisters at the church and at the pilgrims,’ witnesses added.
An Israeli military spokeswoman did not have any information regarding the incident.
The village of al-Eizariya houses the Tomb of Lazarus who, according to the Bible, was miraculously brought back to life by Jesus days after he was buried.
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip, and continues into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.