Ramallah: Fierce clashes raged in the Balata Refugee Camp near Nablus in the West Bank on Thursday morning as hundreds of far right Jewish colonists raided Joseph’s tomb and performed Jewish and Talmudic prayers and rituals.

According to Akram Al Rujoub, the governor of Nablus, a large Israeli military contingent raided the city from the eastern side in a pre-dawn push into Balata to establish a secure passage for hundreds of Jewish colonists to troop to the site.

Palestinian youths confronted the Israeli occupation forces and later took out their ire on buses transporting the colonists at Balata entrance and Amman Street, where the angry Palestinian youths threw rocks and projectiles and rolled burning tyres in the direction of occupation forces, who responded by firing tear gas, rubber coated bullets and also live ammunition at the demonstrators.

Sources in Balata said that at least three Palestinian youths suffered serious injuries and were hospitalised while tens of others were treated for breathing difficulties. The sources said that at least 20 Palestinians were arrested by occupation forces who were supported by snipers who had taken position on top of surrounding buildings.

Far-right colonist groups had earlier called for the storming of Joseph’s tomb to perform Jewish religious rituals.

Sources in Balata said that the Palestinian youths were aware of the online calls of the far-right colonist groups to raid the site and had been anticipating a confrontation.

According to the Jewish narrative, Prophet Joseph is buried in the tomb, while the Palestinians officially claim that a local Shaikh, Yousuf Dwaikat, from Balata, is buried there.

According to the Oslo Accords and the security pacts between the Israelis and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Jews can visit the site in visits coordinated with the Palestinian authorities with the Palestinians responsible for providing the necessary protection for the visitors.

Joseph’s tomb is located in Area A of the West Bank, which is under full Palestinian security and administrative control. Jewish colonists escorted by Israeli military forces have repeatedly forced their way to site since 2000 without any kind of coordination with the Palestinian security apparatus.