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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks up while his wife Sara touches the outside wall of the Cave of the Patriarchs, also know for Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. Image Credit: AFP

Hebron: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu undertook an inciting visit to the Occupied West Bank city of Hebron (Khalil) Wednesday, to commemorate the anniversary of the 1929 killing of Jewish colonists there.

The visit, which began in the late afternoon, is a rarity and comes just ahead of Israel’s September 17 elections, with Netanyahu seeking to attract votes from the country’s nationalist right.

He attended a ceremony marking 90 years since 67 Jewish colonists were killed by Palestinian freedom fighters in Hebron.

Today around 800 Jewish colonists live under hefty Israeli army security in the city, surrounded by around 200,000 Palestinians.

The area was under heavy guard for the ceremony - which also attracted other Israeli politicians - with soldiers, explosives experts and sniffer dogs all present.

The Palestinian Authority has condemned his visit - his first since 1998, according to Israeli media - as “provocative” and politically motivated.

“This is a purely colonialist, racist visit that Netanyahu is doing at the height of an election battle in an attempt to win votes from the right and the extreme right,” the PA’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

Palestinian activists from Youth Against Settlements raised a giant Palestinian flag in the area.

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Palestinian protesters Image Credit: AFP

Palestinian youths threw stones and firecrackers at soldiers in the city centre who responded with rubber bullets, witnesses said.

Electorally motivated

Netanyahu is fighting for reelection in a campaign in which colonist votes will be key in his efforts to build a right-wing coalition.

Hebron has seen regular unrest.

In 1994, Israeli terrorist Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Muslim worshippers there with an assault rifle before being beaten to death by survivors.

Israeli colonies are seen as illegal under international law and a major obstacle to peace, as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.