Christian missionaries nearly lynched by angry Arab mob in Hebron

Social media footage from the scene depicts a large crowd of onlookers standing around a vehicle, as Palestinian security forces eventually move in to rescue the trapped visitors.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

Two vehicles belonging to Christian missionaries and tourists accidentally drove into the Palestinian Authority-controlled city of Hebron on Wednesday evening, where they were surrounded by an angry mob and had to be extricated to safety by security forces.

Hebrew language media reported that a van and a private vehicle, carrying 11 people, had driven into the Arab city shortly after the Yom Kippur holiday ended.

Eight of the people were identified as tourists from Russia and three were Israeli citizens, according to Walla News.

Social media footage from the scene depicts a large crowd of onlookers standing around the vehicle, as Palestinian security forces eventually move in to rescue the trapped visitors.

Chaim Malespin, a Christian missionary who runs the Aliyah Return Center in northern Israel, confirmed on his YouTube account that the vehicles which mistakenly entered the Arab city are affiliated with his organization.

“You’ve seen plastered all over the news the videos of these riotous, murderous individuals who surrounded one of our Aliyah Return Center cars,” Malespin said in a video posted late Wednesday evening.

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“It was a lynch mob, they went out to lynch some of our staff…don’t worry, we’re fine, and I wasn’t there,” he continued. “Our team is fine, we’re all safe, we’re home, and God bless you from the Galilee.”

Although Malespin didn’t provide a clear explanation as to how the vehicles had entered the city, he did make a vague reference to some of his staff having been in Hebron to pray on Yom Kippur, presumably in the Jewish enclave within Hebron.

Wednesday’s incident came just one day after two Israeli women and two children had to be rescued from the the PA-administered city Nablus, just hours before the onset of Yom Kippur.

Hebrew language media reports indicated that the women had intentionally drove into the city to shop with a Palestinian friend, and their Israeli license-plated video attracted attention. Similarly to Wednesday’s event, the Israelis were surrounded by a mob, but were protected by Palestinian security forces until they were transferred to IDF custody.

Israeli law expressly forbids Israeli citizens from entering PA-controlled cities and towns in Judea and Samaria, although Arab Israelis often flout this policy.

Malespin’s Aliyah Return Center has sparked controversy in the past. The center purports to provide material support, such as housing and food, to new Jewish immigrants who have recently arrived in Israel, but that help comes with strings attached.

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In videos published on his YouTube page, Malespin has proudly stated that he and other Christian missionaries use the Aliyah Return Center to “expose” Jews to Christianity.

Critics have slammed the Jewish Agency for partnering with the Aliyah Return Center, arguing that the organization is focused on proselytizing to vulnerable Jews.