Four Jewish pilgrims from the United States were arrested before dawn on Friday in Shechem as they sought to pray at Joseph's Tomb.
The four, associated with the Bratslav Hassidic group were confronted at gunpoint by Palestinian Authority police and taken into custody before reaching the grave site. They were handed over to Israeli police and taken to the Ariel police station.
"Americans are allowed to stay in Nablus and their summary arrest is a violation of international law," a friend of the four detainees said.
David Ha'ivri of the Shomron Liaison Office who has been directly involved in efforts to allow access for Jews to Joseph's tomb also decried the arrest. "This arrest show the irony of the false claims that Israel is apartheid. While Arabs have free access to all areas in Israel, Jewish people are denied access to holy places that are in PA areas administrated by the PLO," Ha'Ivri said.
"It is outrageous that this discrimination and harassment is going on while the PA is supported through funding of the American and EU governments. Joseph's tomb must be reopened for full free access for all Jewish people regardless to their citizenship," he added.