Far-right Israeli settler appointed tour guide for US army officers – Middle East Monitor

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Last week, US military officers were invited to visit the Palestinian city of Hebron (Al-Khalil) by a spokesman for the far-right settlement at the request of Major General Yehuda Fuchs, Chief of the Israel Defense Forces Central Command. And this despite the fact that the settlers of Hebron and the surrounding area have a reputation for being among the most fanatical of all.

Fuchs contacted far-right spokesman Noam Arnon to ask him to lead the full-day tour, which included a visit to the Ibrahimi Mosque, which settlers call the Cave of the Patriarchs. The US officers were also shown in areas of the occupied Palestinian city where illegal Israeli settlements are located.

Although Palestinians make up the vast majority of the population in Hebron, the occupation army has made no effort to invite anyone to represent the community living under what many commentators and human rights groups described as racial segregation imposed by the occupying state.

Some 850 heavily armed Israeli settlers live in the town. They are protected by soldiers among more than 200,000 Palestinians. Hebron has often been a flashpoint. In February 1994, an American Jewish settler, Baruch Goldstein, opened fire on worshipers while they were praying in the Ibrahimi Mosque, killing 29 Palestinians and injuring many others. He continued to shoot until he was overpowered by survivors and beaten to death.

Goldstein’s act of terror earned him cult status as a hero among Israeli settlers. His grave in the occupied West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, near Hebron, has over the years become a place of pilgrimage for extremist Jews. A shrine to his memory was also erected there.

READ: PA condemns Israeli President’s ‘storming’ of Ibrahimi Mosque

Israel’s coordination with a far-right settler reflects what many see as a worrying shift fueled in November by Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s visit to the Ibrahimi Mosque. In recent years, the army has ceased its own tours and field trips in conjunction with settlers in the occupied city.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh criticized Herzog’s visit and accused him of attempting “to distort the truth about the Arab and Islamic city, to Judaize it and control it while subjecting its indigenous population to a racist regime”.

The Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and several Arab and Muslim countries, including Jordan and Saudi Arabia, called the president’s visit provocative. The OIC said Herzog’s visit was part of “Israeli plans to Judaize the Ibrahimi Mosque and tighten Israel’s grip on it”.

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