Young settlers who clashed with security forces on Sunday gathered in a small alley in the Jewish quarter weighing their next step as Monday ended with hurling insults at policemen during an arrest raid around midday.
Riots in Hebron (Footage: Reuters)
“Israeli criminals,” “Gestapo”, and “May your children die of hunger,” are among the curses directed at IDF soldiers and Border Guard officers who entered the divided city on Monday.
Hundreds of youths – "the hilltop youths" as they are known by the public – are walking around the Jewish section of Hebron. In recent days they have thrown stones and eggs at security forces. Today they "made due" with hurling insults only at soldiers and police.
At first glance, the sides looked highly uneven – on one side are hundreds of soldiers, police and Border Police, armed with batons and backed up by police on horseback. This formidable force faced a group of youths who did not seem shaken in their belief that they could change the decision of the political leadership to clear them and their families from the area. They may have taken a "break" on Monday, but they can be trusted to make sure the confrontation is not over.
Two 16 year-old youths who arrived in Hebron from Jerusalem told me exactly what their goal was.
"We came to fight for our land because Israel is ours. This is Jewish land, and the State is acting in a criminal manner. We only threw eggs at security forces, not rocks. We have no problem with that, it’s a legitimate thing to do," said one.
Nehemia, 20, of Kiriyat Arba, told Ynet: "A high percentage of the youths came here to Hebron from all over the country. They are motivated by concern for the independence of the Jewish nation. They are worried about the Land of Israel, because they sense a threat against the most important thing in our generation, and that's why they came."
'Police are American pawns'
Nehemia said recent clashes with security forces "were not spontaneous. There is a lot of thought beforehand, we have 'ushers.' It's not important whether we are liked or not. What motivates us is that we are proud of our Judaism. People here are not pushovers. We come with iron fists."
"As far as we're concerned the question of masking our face is an understandable phenomenon. The guys will fight those who harm Jewish independence, because it's important to us. These police officers are pawns of the Americans. It's immoral from our perspective to receive blows and not return them. Those who hit us will be hit by us. Rocks are not a good thing, but it is justified - that is the truth, that is the law. If you don't like us that's okay, because history is the one that will judge," added Nehemia.
And what do they do during the day, other than clashing with police and the army? "We study Torah and hope that more people come here, because everyone who comes can help," said one of the youths.
Jews in Hebron charge police instigated the riots. "It's because of their provocation," said Noam Arnon, a spokesman for the community. He said that he gathered the youths earlier on Monday, told them the current phase of the struggle has ended, and urged them to go home.
Arnon claimed the large flow of forces into the city had only served to increase tensions.
Since the start of the riots, 18 settlers have been arrested for rioting. Three more settlers were arrested in the afternoon, with one female detainee found in possession of a spike.
Police Chief Superintendent Avi Harush, who is overseeing operations in Hebron, told Ynet: "On Thursday, a group of youths entered the Jewish community. At first they numbered dozens, but in the end they totaled 300 youths, who began rioting and breaking the law. Some of them wore face masks as they threw stones and paint at security forces, while others tried to go to Palestinian neighborhoods to harm property there. Security forces came to protect the residents of the area, and some received blows."
"Our aim is to impose law and order against the rioters and to carry out arrests," added Harush.