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Police Clash with Settlers Barred from Hebron Site

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Israeli police in the West Bank town of Hebron scuffled briefly with Jewish worshipers this week as they tried to pray at the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

The site was closed to Jews on Tuesday as Muslims marked the start of the holy month of Ramadan.

About 30 Jewish worshipers had arrived at the site, hoping to pray inside. But the police prevented them from entering.

Access to the shrine was restricted to 1,200 Muslim worshipers, in keeping with new security arrangements at the site, which is considered holy by both Jews and Muslims.

New security arrangements were made at the Tomb after the February 1994 massacre, during which a Jewish settler from nearby Kiryat Arba opened fire on Muslim worshipers, killing 29 people.

The Tomb remained closed for more than six months after the incident, until Israeli officials completed a new security design aimed at keeping members of the two faiths apart.

As part of the new arrangement, Jews and Muslims are allocated 10 days of sole use of the shrine each year on special holy days.

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