PARTICIPANTS IN the annual Hebron march show the flag, with the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the background.
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
As a new immigrant, Yigal Naouri first marched through the streets of Hebron in 1987 with some 500 French Jews in a show of solidarity with the fledgling Jewish community.
Thirty years later, the 49-year-old Jerusalem resident again paraded through Hebron, this time with more than 1,000 French Jews under the hot August sun on Wednesday, and to the beat of loud religious music.
“This is the type of event that only the French know how to do,” he said, adding that he is “proud” to have participated with his two teenage children.
The annual parade’s 30th anniversary took place in the 50th year since the Six Day War, which placed the city under Israeli control.
This year it was organized by a newly created Israeli-French organization called Israel is Forever.
The marchers turned the event into a protest statement against last month’s World Heritage Committee vote to inscribe the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and Hebron’s Old Town surrounding it, to the “State of Palestine.”
They also wanted to show solidarity with 15 families who illegally moved into a three-story structure called Beit Hamachpela last month.
The families are in the midst of attempting to register their purchase claim with the Civil Administration for Judea and Samaria.
They have asked the government to allow them to remain until they have authenticated the sale and registered the property.
Shlomo Levinger, a spokesman for the 15 families from Beit Hamachpela, recalled how in 1968 his father, Rabbi Moshe Levinger, first tried to bring Jews back to the city they fled in August 1929, after Arab rioters killed 67 people.
“We bought Beit Hamachpela, and we will continue to redeem other properties in Hebron,” he said.
Coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud), who has thrown his support behind Beit Hamachpela, spoke to the group after the march.
“The contemptible decision of UNESCO completely ignored the Jewish people’s historical connection to the city where our forefathers are buried,” Bitan said. “It reinforces the need and importance of your presence here. There is no more symbolic moment than now to appeal to those of you who have not yet immigrated to Israel, that now is the time to return home, to the only true home of all the Jews.”
Yaakov Hagoel, vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization and chairman of World Likud, told The Jerusalem Post
that he had come from Netanya to join the group.
“These are people who could have been at the beach or in air-conditioned rooms with their iPads, and instead they are marching here with Israeli flags in the midst of Hebron, where it all began for the Jewish people,” he said.
In the evening, near the checkpoint by the Tomb of the Patriarchs, border police officers arrested a Palestinian man, 25, who held a knife and whom they feared was about to stab them.
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