Hebron Palestinians unconvinced by evacuation
Beit Hamachpela protesters pleased by evacuation, but say "real problem" includes all settlers in Hebron.
Border policemen at Beith Hamahpelah in Hebron Photo: Reuters
Palestinians in Hebron reacted with mixed feelings to Wednesday’s eviction of
Jewish settlers from a house which they allegedly purchased from a
“We hope this is not just a theatrical act,” said Mahmoud
Qawassmeh, who lives near the disputed house, which Palestinians say belongs to
the Abu Rajab family.
“We are happy that the settlers have been removed
from here,” he said. “But we hope that this is a permanent move and that they
won’t come back.”
In Ramallah, Palestinian Authority officials did not
comment on the eviction of the settlers.
Qawassmeh and a group of
Palestinian activists had set up a tent near the site to protest against the
presence of the settlers in the house.
“We still don’t know if we are
going to end the protest,” said Ayman Zahdeh, another neighbor. “The
problem is not only with the 20 settlers who occupied the Palestinian house. The
real problem we have is with all the settlers who are living in our city. We
want to see all of them evicted because their presence here is a source of
tension and instability.”
Issa Amr, one of the activists behind the
antisettler protest, complained that settlers attacked Palestinian families
Wednesday with stones and firebombs.
He said that the settlers caused
damage to the windows at the home of the Sider family and a vehicle belonging to
the Qafisheh family.
“The settlers also tried to set fire to our tent,”
he claimed. “They hurled abuse at us and threatened to harm even the children
who were standing in the area.”
The PA governor of Hebron, Kamel Hmeid,
denied that the disputed house had been sold to settlers.
“How can 20
settlers together buy one house?” he asked. “And why did they force their way
into the house after midnight? Why haven’t they shown us proof that they
purchased the house?”
A PA security official in Hebron confirmed that the
Palestinian security forces have launched an investigation into the case to
determine whether Palestinians were involved in the real estate deal. The
official also denied that a suspect was arrested for questioning.