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Israel's Ben Gvir lashes out at Bella Hadid over Palestinians' rights comment

Far-right politician calls supermodel 'Israel hater' after she rebukes him for his 'inflammatory' remarks
Supermodel Bella Hadid wearing traditional Palestinian dress and waving a Palestinian flag at a march in New York in May 2021 (Instagram/@mohamedhadid)

Supermodel Bella Hadid rebuked Israel's national security minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, for saying his rights were more important than those of Palestinians, prompting a jeering response from the far-right politician. 

"To the Israel hater Bella Hadid, good morning," Ben Gvir said on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Friday. 

He then proceeded to double down on controversial comments he made earlier this week in which he said his rights were "more important" than those of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. 

Bella Hadid, who is of Palestinian origin, took to Instagram on Wednesday to condemn the far-right politician's remarks.  

"In no place, no time, especially in 2023 should one life be more valuable than another's. Especially simply because of their ethnicity, culture, or pure hatred," she wrote on her Instagram story.

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Responding to the post, Ben Gvir accused Hadid of trying to portray him as "racist and backward". 

"I don't apologise or take back my comments. I will repeat them 1,000 times," he said. 

Speaking in an interview with Israel's Channel 12, Ben Gvir on Wednesday said that he and his family's right "to get around on the roads" in the West Bank was "more important than the right to movement for Arabs".

"That's the reality. That's the truth. My right to life comes before their right to movement," he said. 

His comments have sparked backlash and condemnation inside and outside of Israel.

The United States State Department called them "inflammatory" and said it condemned "all racist rhetoric". 

Ben Gvir lives in a settlement in the West Bank near Hebron and has invited Hadid to visit Kiryat Arba "to see how we live here". 

Nearly 700,000 settlers live in more than 250 settlements and outposts across the West Bank and East Jerusalem in violation of international law.

Hadid, born in the United States to a Palestinian father, has been a vocal critic of Israel.

Her advocacy for Palestinian rights on her Instagram account, which boasts nearly 60 million followers, has previously drawn the criticism of members of the Israeli parliament and even the official Israeli account on X.

'Backwards racist'

The exchange between the model and and minister has garnered ​​widespread reactions from within Israel and beyond.

Many Israeli social media users rallied behind Hadid against Ben Gvir, underscoring his "extreme views". 

Translation: "If you don't want to be a backward racist, you won't come out a backward racist. Just saying."

One user mockingly stated "don't forget to take her to Baruch Goldstein's grave in Meir Kahane Park", referring to a settler who massacred 29 Palestinians in 1994 while they stood for prayer in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. 

Ben Gvir has in the past expressed his admiration of Goldstein. 

Another user called on the minister to focus on "doing his job" instead of responding to models on social media.

Ben Gvir, who has a long track record of expressing racist, anti-Palestinian views, joined the extremist Jewish Kach party at a young age and was arrested and charged multiple times over his violent activism against Palestinians.

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