Ramallah: Fierce clashes raged and violence flared around the Balata Refuge Camp near Nablus in the West Bank on Thursday as hundreds of far-right Jewish colonists under heavy Israeli military escort stormed a site that Jews claim is the location of Joseph’s Tomb but is located in Area A of the West Bank, which is under full Palestinian security and administrative control.

Palestinian residents speaking to Gulf News said that dozens of buses full of Israeli colonists entered the already simmering refugee camp of Balata after weeks of underlying tension and clashes with the Palestinian security apparatus in a pre-dawn intrusion.

Fierce clashes erupted between angry Palestinian youths protesting the frequent raids on the area aided by Israeli occupation forces.

Israeli forces had to call for massive back-up after the clashes continued for several hours on Thursday.

Jews believe that Prophet Joseph is buried at the tomb while Muslims believe it is the tomb of Shaikh Yousuf Dwaikat, a prominent Muslim figure.

Under a status quo agreement, Jews can visit the site but must coordinate with Palestinian security forces and Jews are not allowed to perform religious rituals there.

However, Jewish colonists never coordinate their visits and instead are backed by Israeli occupation forces.