A total of 32,000 Jewish settlers, led by Itimar Ben-Gvir and backed by soldiers, assault Palestinians as well as their markets, shops, and automobiles.
A sizable group of Israeli Jewish settlers can be seen milling about outside the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, an ancient Palestinian city, on a Friday night.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, the new spokesman for Israel‘s racist far right and one of the movement’s leaders who won 14 seats in the most recent general election, stands out among them.
This election victory is being enjoyed by Ben-Gvir, who resides in the nearby Kiryat Arba settlement in the occupied West Bank, which is home to about 7,000 settlers. Some of his supporters fight with Israeli soldiers while intoxicated. Tossing stones at a Palestinian home, some people split off.
For a reading of the Torah portion Chayei Sarah from the Book of Genesis, an estimated 32,000 settlers traveled from all over the West Bank to the mosque, which Jews refer to as the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
They spend the night in tents, and the next morning the Israeli army takes a risky course of action.
On the morning of November 19, soldiers open the gate separating the Palestinian Authority-officially controlled old city market of Hebron from the Israeli-controlled area surrounding the Ibrahimi mosque.
They had recently moved through the ancient market, erecting barriers to provide a supposedly secure route for settlers seeking to get to the tomb of Othniel ben Kenaz, a biblical judge whose shrine is thought to be in Hebron.
Other soldiers issue a warning to Palestinians to close their shops over loudspeakers. Although the settlers eventually veer off the planned path, they still obey.
After marching through the closed sections of the garment market, they turn into the vegetable market, which is still open, knocking over stalls and hurling rocks as well as insults in the process.
Palestine without Palestinians
They also damage shopkeepers’ vehicles and break the doors of two mosques.
The next morning, when reporters arrived on the scene, damage was evident everywhere.
The floor was covered in stones, which one elderly female shopkeeper claimed were thrown by settlers. One terrified elderly shopkeeper passed out during the attack and was taken to the hospital with a possible heart attack.
The shop owners claim that settlers stormed the area, destroying tables laden with fruit and vegetables and injuring several Palestinians with their stone-throwing. The store owners claim that some settlers had weapons but didn’t use them. Israeli soldiers attacked Palestinians who resisted settlers as they arrived on the scene later.
A few weeks prior to the settler march, religious parties that openly support the expulsion of “disloyal Arabs” from Palestine gained significant support in the Israeli elections. This march was one of the largest settler demonstrations in Hebron history.
Ben-Gvir, the leader of the Otzmar Yehidit party, supports a settler movement that wants to expel Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem and create an Israeli state throughout the West Bank free from Arab influence.
The West Bank is the center of the biblical sites that symbolize the “real Israel,” according to Ben-Gvir and the religious right he represents.
His mandate calls for significant changes to Jews’ access rights to some of the most significant Muslim holy sites in Palestine, and this is how he and his allies secured their sizable electoral victories.
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