Jewish youth worker Azulay stands in the Shir Hadash settlement in the West Bank.
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SHIR HADASH OUTPOST, West Bank, Palestine: The Israeli government initiative has a soothing biblical name, the Hebrew Shepherd, and a serious aim: to keep ultranationalist Jewish settler youths from turning to violence and attacking Palestinians and their property.Many settler youths have refused to cooperate after rumors spread that Israel's domestic security agency, Shin Bet, which snoops on Jewish extremists, was involved.It is but one example of Israel's failure to rein in youths suspected of carrying out ultranationalist attacks. A main focus of the concern is the so-called "hilltop youth," young people among a settler movement that sets up outposts not authorized by the Israeli government on West Bank hilltops – land the Palestinians claim for their hoped for state.A youth counselor and former hilltop youth himself, Azulay joined the Hebrew Shepherd program a year ago to try to help keep young extremists from the brink of violence, but resigned because he thought the Shin Bet's alleged involvement undermined the young people's trust.After last month's firebombing, Israel carried out arrest raids of hilltop outposts and jailed three Israeli settler activists in their early 20s for six months without charge, a measure used regularly against Palestinian detainees but rarely on Israelis. Critics say influential rabbis have done little to publicly denounce the violent youths, and that Israeli leaders have embraced settler activists who support them.
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