‘Jews experience apartheid’ in the West Bank: Ben-Gvir says

Middle East Monitor  /  August 30, 2023

Jews suffer apartheid in Hebron/Al-Khalil, Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir claimed on Monday during an Instagram live chat.

“Arabs can go anywhere, wherever they want and however much they want,” said Ben-Gvir, who lives in the illegal Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba in occupied Hebron. “Jews cannot enter 97 per cent of the city’s areas,” he added, concluding that “there’s apartheid in Kiryat Arba.

Contrary to his claims, it is Palestinians who cannot enter Kiryat Arba or the areas surrounding the illegal settlements as a result of Israeli checkpoints and restriction on their movement.

The city of Hebron has an estimated total population of 200,000 inhabitants. Approximately, 40,000 Palestinians live in the Old City and around 400-850 hardline illegal Jewish settlers also reside in the centre of the city; an additional 8,000 illegal settlers reside in the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement, on the outskirts of Hebron.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been forced out of their homes in Hebron in order for the occupation to ‘secure’ areas for illegal settlers, while the main shopping district – Shuhada Street – has been closed down to provide safe passage for settlers.

Al-Ibrahimi Mosque, which is located in the heart of Hebron, has also been split to make way for synagogue following the 1994 massacre of Muslim worshippers at the hands of an extremist settler.

Ben-Gvir’s comments came following the widespread criticism he faced after saying that he and his family have a greater right to freedom of movement than Palestinians.

“My right, my wife’s right, my children’s right to travel on the roads of Judea and Samaria is more important than the right to movement for Arabs,” he said, referring to the occupied West Bank by its biblical Hebrew name.

Meanwhile, Palestinians have long railed against travel restrictions, including checkpoints, imposed on them by Israel in the West Bank, an area where they exercise limited self-rule and which they seek as part of a futuresState.

Supermodel Bella Hadid, whose father is Palestinian and who has been a vocal supporter of Palestinian rights, criticized Ben-Gvir’s comments on Palestinians’ freedom of movement on Instagram, where she has close to 60 million followers.

“In no place, no time, especially in 2023 should one life be more valuable than another’s. Especially simply because of their ethnicity, culture or pure hatred,” she wrote in a post on Thursday.

Ben-Gvir, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist coalition, has past convictions of support for terrorism and anti-Palestinian incitement. He claims his views have become more moderate since joining the government.