Settlers enter building in Hebron 370.
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Fifteen settler families who moved into a vacant Palestinian apartment building
in the West Bank city of Hebron early Thursday morning could create a security
risk, the IDF charged.
The three-story stone structure is located by a
small park near the Cave of the Patriarchs, in a Palestinian neighborhood under
Shlomo Levinger, who moved there with his seven
children, said that a number of Hebron Jews had bought the building from its
Palestinian owner months ago.
A spokeswoman for Judea and Samaria police
said they were checking the authenticity of the purchase. She said that
Palestinians continue to claim ownership of the structure, which they say is in
the process of being divided between heirs of the original
According to MK Uri Ariel (National Union), the Palestinian police
had arrested the Palestinian property owner who sold the building to the Jewish
families, an act which is illegal under the PA and punishable by
The Palestinian police did not confirm the arrest.
security sources lashed out at the families for “irresponsibly” making such a
move amid the tense atmosphere in advance of Friday’s Global March to
Hundreds of thousands of activists are expected to rush
Israel’s borders and march from the West Bank in the direction of
In light of this, a security source said, moving into the
apartment building was “an unnecessary provocation and untimely, from a
reasonable point of view.”
“It could have a negative effect on the
security situation, due to the way it was carried out,” the source
Settlers did not consult with security forces before moving in to
the building, the source said.
The IDF and border police have blocked off
the area around the structure. According to the police spokeswoman, the families
who moved in can enter and leave the building, but may not have
Neither the security source nor the spokeswoman commented on
whether residents would be forcibly removed.
“We have frozen the
situation,” the source said.
Levinger said that the 15 families, who are
from Hebron and nearby Kiryat Arba, had not known of the Global
The timing of the move, Levinger said, was based on their fear
that Palestinians would take over the building if it remained vacant. In
actuality, he said, the timing was not optimal, in that “it was hard to leave
our homes right before Passover.”
Levinger’s father, Moshe, is a rabbi
who made headlines on April 4, 1968, when he checked into Hebron’s Park Hotel
for Passover with a group of Jews.
Once there, the group announced their
plan to rebuild the city’s Jewish community, which had been destroyed after the
1929 massacre of 67 Hebron Jews by their Arab neighbors.
relocated to a nearby military base and from there to the newly created
settlement of Kiryat Arba.
A number of right-wing parliamentarians
visited the building in solidarity with the families.
Ariel said, “It is
clear to me, without a shadow of a doubt, that this is Jewish property that was
He called on security forces to rescue the former
Palestinian building owner, whose life is now in danger.
MKs Arye Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari said that moving into the building was a
Zionist act and only those who though the land belonged to Arabs could see it as
a provocation.Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.