NABLUS, West Bank (AP) — Several Israelis were wounded overnight after they entered the Palestinian West Bank city of Nablus and came under fire, the Israeli military said Tuesday.
The Israelis appeared to have headed on their own to a flashpoint shrine in the city, where visits are usually coordinated with the military under tight security precautions.
After they came under fire, troops entered the city, which is under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority and its security forces, to evacuate the Israelis, the military said. Israelis are prohibited from entering the Palestinian-controlled areas, although some still do.
The military later said forces were exchanging fire with armed Palestinians in the city. It was not immediately clear if the events were connected.
Israel has been conducting near-daily raids in the occupied West Bank since March, driving up tensions in the area.
The army said that it arrested 12 Palestinians during West Bank raids on Tuesday, including two men suspected of carrying out a shooting last week. They were apprehended after a shootout with Israeli troops in the northern West Bank village of Rujib, near Nablus.
Video footage showed an explosion rocking a building in Rujib, followed by intense gunfire, and the two wanted men later exiting the house and surrendering.
The raids were launched after a spate of deadly attacks against Israelis that killed 19 people. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed since the start of the year, many of them militants or people involved in clashes with Israeli forces, the military says. But civilians have also been killed.
Some Jews believe the biblical Joseph is buried in the Nablus tomb, while Muslims say a sheikh is buried there. The army escorts Jewish worshippers to the site, known to Jews as Joseph’s Tomb, several times a year, in coordination with Palestinian security forces.
As Israeli-Palestinian violence has flared this year, the site has again become a flashpoint. In April, some 100 Palestinians marched toward Joseph’s Tomb and set it ablaze before they were dispersed by Palestinian security forces. Images on social media showed parts of the tomb inside the shrine smashed and charred.
Earlier this month, the Israeli military said forces escorting Jewish worshippers to the shrine came under fire and then shot back. An 18-year-old Palestinian man was killed in the violence.