NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Hundreds of Jewish worshipers escorted by Israeli troops arrived overnight Thursday at Joseph's Tomb near Balata refugee camp east of Nablus, locals said.
Local sources told Ma'an that over a dozen buses guarded by Israeli forces arrived at the tomb, who were deployed onto the rooftops of nearby homes during the visit.
Worshipers performed religious rites from midnight until the early morning hours, during which time Israeli soldiers remained stationed on the rooftops of private Palestinian homes.
Israeli settlers frequently visit Joseph's Tomb under the protection of Israeli forces, who regularly raid local Palestinian villages and sometimes fire tear gas into the neighboring Balata refugee camp during the visits.
Despite lying in an area under Palestinian Authority deep in the West Bank, Israeli forces maintain control at the site and prohibit Muslims from praying there.
Palestinians believe that Joseph's Tomb is the funerary monument to Sheikh Yusef Dweikat, a local religious figure. Others believe that the tomb belongs to the Biblical patriarch Joseph. The area is sacred to Jews, Samaritans, Christians and Muslims alike.
More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.