(Times of Israel) As dusk fell on Mount Gerizim, the biblical “mountain of the blessing” overlooking the West Bank town of Nablus, men wearing white from head to toe were rounding up sheep in an enclosed courtyard, preparing them for the mass slaughter that would unfold minutes later.

April 23 marked Passover eve for the Samaritans, a minuscule community of 760 people divided almost evenly between the Tel Aviv suburb of Holon and the small village of Kiryat Luza in the heart of Palestinian Authority-controlled territory in Samaria.

Torn between two embattled national entities, the Samaritans have managed — against all odds — to weather centuries of persecution, from the Jewish Hasmoneans in the second century BCE to the Muslim Ottomans in the 17th century CE. But the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is presenting challenges of a new kind.

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