Friday, January 28, 2022

Israel’s President Celebrates Hanukkah at West Bank Site

Israel’s president visited one of the most controversial places in the occupied West Bank on Sunday to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, prompting a scuffle between Israeli security forces and protesters.

President Isaac Herzog said he was visiting the Patriarch’s Cave in Hebron to celebrate the ancient city’s Jewish past and promote interreligious ties. But his visit to the city, known for its small ultranationalist Jewish settler community and difficult living conditions for Palestinians, drew widespread criticism from Palestinians and left-wing Israelis.

About 1,000 Jewish settlers live in small enclaves in the city guarded by Israeli troops, surrounded by some 200,000 Palestinians who have to pass through Israeli checkpoints to move from place to place.

There is constant violence between the parties and the Cave of the Patriarchs, revered by Muslims and Jews, was the site of a massacre by a Jewish settler who killed 29 Muslim worshipers in 1994.

Herzog made no mention of the 1994 massacre, but paid tribute to the more than 60 Jews killed by Palestinians in Hebron during the riots in 1929, noting that a relative had survived the fighting.

“I have no doubt that she must have been greatly impressed by the fact that one of her descendants is lighting Hanukkah candles in the Patriarch’s Cave as President of the State of Israel,” he said during a ceremony marking the first night. . Eight days off.

The recognition of Jewish attachment to the city “should be beyond all controversy,” he said.

The cave is believed to be the tomb of the Jewish and Muslim patriarch Abraham. It is also revered as the burial site of other Jewish patriarchs and patriarchs and is considered the second holiest site in Judaism.

In his speech, he made a brief call for “peace among all religions” and “condemning all forms of hatred and violence”.

But critics accused Herzog of embracing the most radical elements of Israeli society. Herzog is the former leader of Israel’s Labor Party, which supports a two-state solution with the Palestinians. And his current position is to be apolitical and serve as a moral compass for the nation.

Hussein al-Sheikh, a top Palestinian official, called the visit a “political, moral and religious provocation”.

Several dozen Israeli protesters gathered about a kilometer (half a mile) away from the cave, shouting “shame” as Israeli police held some of them back. Journalists and protesters were not allowed near the holy site.

“Herzog has no shame,” said Nurit Budinsky, an Israeli activist. “He came to celebrate with these Jews who captured the city and celebrated the holiday of freedom with them. Here in Hebron there is no freedom, there are people who live in unbearable occupations.”

Breaking the Silence, a group of former Israeli combat soldiers protesting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, accused Herzog of “giving this obscene reality and the official seal of approval to those who perpetuate it”.

The Jewish residents of Hebron are among the hardest-hit line of around 700,000 Israeli settlers living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israel occupied the West Bank along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians claim all three territories for a future independent state. The international community overwhelmingly considers the settlements illegal. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

Avia Glass, a resident of the neighboring settlement of Kiryat Arba, said the high-profile visit “shows us how great it is for people with this kind of situation to come here to strengthen the settlement.”


This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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