Israeli peace activists are present in a volatile area of the West Bank
Israeli peace activists are present in a volatile area of the West Bank

HEBRON: Dozens of Israeli peace workers in the occupied West Bank's largest city were touring the area on Friday while they were surrounded by ultra-nationalists chanting "shame, shame".

The clash in the heart of Hebron serves as a reminder of the growing divisions within Israeli society and the ongoing military occupation of the Palestinian people's land, which has lasted 56 years.

Following last month's parliamentary elections, former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to take office as the head of the most right-wing and religious government in Israel's history.

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Itamar Ben-Gvir, a former frontier figure known for his anti-Arab rhetoric, and other ultra-nationalist faction leaders have already gained significant power in the West Bank as a result of coalition agreements brokered by Netanyahu.

Paramilitary border police, often stationed in Palestinian population centers, and overseeing Israeli settlement construction are two examples of new roles.

At the same time, right-wing politicians have attacked peace activists and Palestinian rights organizations in recent years, calling them traitors.

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An incident in volatile Hebron that was caught on camera last week served as the immediate catalyst for Friday's tour.
After a tense standoff with a small group of peace activists, the soldier can be seen in the video pushing a man to the ground and punching him in the face.

Another soldier is heard telling the protesters that Ben-Gvir will settle things on the spot. You guys lost, that's all.
The military jail term for a taunting soldier was originally set at 10, but was later reduced by the army to six days.

In his new role as Minister of National Security, Ben-Gvir will be in charge of the Border Police, whose members often serve alongside regular troops in the West Bank.

A group of protesters waving a banner that read "The people of Israel demand: Get the anarchists out of Hebron" met 200 peace activists as they arrived in the center of Hebron on Friday.

Visitors were listening to tour guides in a parking lot not far from the right-wing protesters when a man shouted "shame, shame" into a bullhorn.

According to Ori Givati, a spokesman for Breaking the Silence, one of the organizations organizing the march, Friday's march was part of the regular schedule of anti-occupy organisations, but attendance was higher than usual due to the election result and the event. Last week in Hebron.

Thousands of Palestinians in Hebron, a city where dozens of heavily guarded residents live, claimed workers were worried but also determined to continue with their work.

"There is of course concern first and foremost for the safety of Palestinians under this occupation, who will now be under a government that promotes hatred and racism more than ever, as well as our organizations and other toward organizations and activists who are now in a situation where their activity is more illegal here than ever before," Givati said.

Those chanting anti-peace slogans presented themselves as Israeli soldiers and defenders of settlements. The activists were labeled "anarchists" by Mattan Gerafy of the right-wing Im Tirtu group, who claimed they wanted to discredit the soldiers.

The Palestinians were mostly in hiding as Israeli groups engaged in warfare. According to Issa Amro, a Hebron-based Palestinian activist, the hardline ideology of Ben-Gvir and others will continue to pervade Israeli society.

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They claimed that their election of fascist representatives to the government was being celebrated by the settlers in the area. What happens in Hebron will have an impact on Tel Aviv.

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