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Israel braces for Hebron pilgrimage

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israeli forces are bracing for a major Jewish pilgrimage to Hebron.

Up to 20,000 Jews are expected to attend "the Life of Sarah" pilgrimage this weekend, commemorating Abraham’s purchase of the cave of the patriarchs, a site in the city claimed by Muslims and Jews.

Tensions have flared in recent weeks over competing Jewish and Arab claims to another building in the city, dubbed "the house of contention" in the Israeli media. The Israeli Supreme Court has ordered the building evacuated of Jewish settlers within the next month; the army is concerned that some of the pilgrims will stay behind to resist evacuation.

In a riot Wednesday night, vandals attacked Palestinian homes, desecrated Muslim graves, uprooted olive trees and assaulted soldiers.

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