Israelis, Palestinians scuffle at holy site in West Bank

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Dozens of Palestinians gathered in the West Bank village of Nebi Samuel on Friday to protest the visit by an extremist Israeli lawmaker to a holy site that Jews consider to be the burial place of the Biblical prophet Samuel.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, 46, often stages provocative visits to Arab neighborhoods, rallying ultranationalist supporters to confront Palestinians and assert “Jewish Power” — the name of his party.

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On Friday he visited the holy site in the outskirts of Jerusalem where a small synagogue serves Jewish faithful underneath a mosque built over the holy site.

Ben-Gvir who was once relegated to the margins of Israeli politics is surging in the polls ahead of the country’s November elections.

The two sides traded insults and several participants, both Palestinian and Israelis, were seen being led away by police for questioning.

It was not immediately clear if any arrests were made.

Ben-Gvir has been a fixture of Israel’s extreme right for more than two decades, gaining notoriety in his youth as a disciple of the late radical rabbi, Meir Kahane.

He transitioned into politics last year after a career as a lawyer defending radical Jewish West Bank settlers.

Ben-Gvir’s supporters are largely religious and ultra-Orthodox Jews, who tend to have large families, and also come from the influential West Bank settler movement.

Ben-Gvir himself lives in a hard-line settlement next to the West Bank city of Hebron, home to more than 200,000 Palestinians.

Read more: Palestinian killed in West Bank after stabbing Israeli soldier

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