Israeli army clashes with shrine protesters

Israeli soldiers clashed with Palestinians in Hebron angry with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to include the Tomb of the Patriachs in Hebron and the site of Rachel’s Tomb in Bethelehem as part of an Israeli £69m restoration plan for heritage sites.


By Jessica Elgot, February 22, 2010
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Tomb of the Patriachs in Hebron

Tomb of the Patriachs in Hebron

Israeli soldiers have clashed with stone-throwing protesters in Hebron angry that two shrines have been listed as Israeli heritage sites.

The IDF soldiers used tear gas to disperse the protesters who threw bottles and stones at the soldiers.

The protest was in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to include the Tomb of the Patriachs in Hebron and the site of Rachel’s Tomb in Bethelehem as part of an Israeli £69m restoration plan for heritage sites.

The Tomb of the Patriachs is where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are believed to have been buried. Both are also important Islamic shrines.

Rachel's Tomb is a place of pilgrimage for Jewish women who have been unable to get pregnant. Palestinians call the site the Bilal ibn Rabah mosque and claim is that it was built at the time of the Arab conquest.

Palestinian new agency reports said that the point of the restoration plan was to “steal Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, Hebron and Palestinian cities to change their Arab and Islamic character to prove the country is Jewish.”

The Israeli government has denied their will be any attempt to ban or restrict Muslims from visiting the sites.

The West Bank barrier runs into Bethlehem and Rachel’s Tomb is currently located on the Israeli side.

But Palestinians argue that the decision by the Israelis is part of a deeper principle to ensure the sites remain Jewish.

Last updated: 3:58pm, February 24 2010