Dozens of families expected to occupy Hebron house
Under heavy IDF security, hundreds of West Bank settlers and youths spend night in Palestinian building in Hebron which they claim they purchased lawfully. Civil administration to resume verification of ownership documents in morning. Settlement spokesperson: We plan to renovate house and dozens of families will settle here permanently
HEBRON – Hundred of settlers from Kiryat Arba and Hebron in the West Bank, with the back-up of dozens more youths from across Israel, chose to spend the night in the empty Palestinian home which they occupied earlier Monday evening.
Equipped with documents they claimed proved their legal ownership over the building, 200–300 Yeshiva students and youths entered the four-story building outside of Hebron Monday evening.
Not deterred by the chilling cold permeating the unfinished four-story structure, the youths declared that they had no intention of leaving and unrolled blankets and sleeping bags to sleep the night.
Getting organized in the building (Photo: Gil Yochanan)
Despite their assertion that they bought the house lawfully, Hebron resident Bayez Rajabe contends their claim, saying that he is the sole owner of the house and he never sold it.
“The house is mine, and I have all the documents necessary to prove it. They can buy the house from whoever they want, but it is mine and I am the only owner,” Rajabe said.
Throughout the evening large army forces patrolled the area, including the road between Kiryat Arba and the Cave of the Patriarchs, and many remained to secure the area overnight.
Sleeping (Photo: Gil Yochanan)
In the morning, the Civil Administration and judiciary officials will resume their verification of the legal documents presented by the settlers alleging their ownership of the building. The next steps regarding how to deal with the youths will be decided in accordance with their conclusions.
Setting up camp
The youths maintained a separation between males and females in the building, and within a few hours they had set up an impromptu kitchen and even a work-out room.
Within a short time some one even brought pizzas for anyone that was hungry, while others set up study groups. As the next step, the settlers planned to bring families and children to set up permanent homes in the building, they said.
Outside the house (Photo: Gil Yochanan)
Noam Arnon, a spokesperson for the Jewish settlement committee in Hebron, told Ynet, “Our legal entry is in honor of the beginning of the month of Nissan, which starts today. It is an important date, so we decided to give the people of Israel a gift, with the intention that this house will become a house of peace and coexistence. This house was bought three years ago by a Jewish contributor from abroad, via a Jordanian office, for NIS 700,000. The house is unfinished. We’ll have to invest a great deal of money to renovate and complete it.”
Although at first it appeared the settlers’ entry into the house was part of a covert operation, Arnon stressed: “We displayed the documents to security forces. The authorities have known about this purchase for a long time, and it was officially verified a long time ago. We intend to stay here and renovate the building God willing, and dozens of families are already interested in moving here.”
Arnon says he cannot imagine what will happen if the authorities decide their occupation of the home is illegal. “But it is clear to me that the documents are legal; they were examined by the best judiciaries. There is no reason for any problems to arise with the surrounding Arab population. Our purpose is to settle here seriously,” he said.
Inside house, setting up mattresses (Photo: Gil Yochanan)
The hundreds of settlers were in high spirits throughout the evening and into the night. Amram Darry from Kiryat Arba told Ynet that he came to celebrate “moving into the house we bought.” As for permanent residence there, he said, “I have to ask my wife, but I wouldn’t be opposed to opening a mini-market here. Everyone supports us living here, even the Arabs.”
Oren Zar of Hebron explained his view of the symbolic significance of the event: “I came here because this is the land of Israel. We will settle in Hebron and expand our settlements. We thank the Lord that he granted us this moment, and God willing we’ll spread out to many more places. Whether they give permission or not – the Lord gave us permission. This is the bible – Israel doesn’t need permits.”
Right-wing extremist Baruch Marzel didn’t miss out on the event either. He arrived late into the evening.
“Our entry into the house in Hebron is a test of the authority of law. If there is law in Israel, the Attorney’s Office must protect our rights to buy houses in our ancestors’ city.
"Why should an Arab be allowed to buy a Jew’s house but not vice versa? I personally heard Ariel Sharon say that this was his plan for Hebron and Kiryat Arba, to enable contiguity,” Marzel said.