Beit HaShalom in Hebron 390.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Thursday evening upheld the Hebron Jewish
community’s purchase of a four-story building in that city known as Beit
It ordered the state, which had jurisdiction over the property
during the court proceedings, to return it to the Hebron Jewish Community within
But to legally move into the apartment building, its residents
need the Defense Ministry to authorize the sale and their presence
“We have received a wonderful Rosh Hashana present,” Hebron Jewish
Community spokeswoman Orit Struck said.
She added that in light of the
court ruling, it was time for the state and the Defense Ministry to do some soul
searching with respect to the way they had treated her community over this
A force of 600 border police and IDF soldiers forcibly evacuated
residents from the large stone structure in December 2008. Twenty-three
right-wing activists and four police officers were lightly to moderately wounded
in the clashes that ensued, as security personnel dragged people out of the
In addition, right-wing activists clashed with Palestinians in
the area around the building, including in the valley below it that leads to the
Kiryat Arba settlement. At least 20 Palestinians were injured, including a man
and his son who were shot.
In March 2007, 150 settlers moved into the
building, saying that Tal Investments and the Association for Renewing the
Jewish Community in Hebron had bought it, in transactions that occurred in 2004
and 2005, from its Palestinian owners for NIS 700,000.
But the owners
denied the claim and asked the police to evict the building’s Jewish
The Palestinians petitioned the High Court of Justice against
the residents, and the state told the court the settlers had to leave.
based its response in part on police allegations that documents relating to the
sale were forged.
But the court said that the property should remain
vacant until the purchase claim was adjudicated.
Settlers then turned to
the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, which on Thursday ruled that they had indeed
purchased the property and that they were not the ones who had forged the
Jewish ownership of the structure expands the community’s
property holding in the city.
The structure is located on the outskirts
of Hebron, near Kiryat Arba. It overlooks the road that leads to Hebron’s Cave
of the Patriarchs and provides a strategic overview of the area.
also abuts a Muslim graveyard and a mosque, as well as Palestinian homes and
Hagit Ofran of Peace Now called on the Defense Ministry not to
authorize Jewish presence in the building. “There is no need to expand the
Jewish community in Hebron,” Ofran said.
She added that the residents
presence in the home prior to its evacuation in 2008 had been a provocation. In
the days that led to the evacuation right-wing Jewish activists vandalized the
mosque, the cemetery and a number of Palestinian homes in the area.
Likud Ministers Yuli Edelstein, Gideon Sa’ar and Israel Katz said Thursday that
Defense Minister Ehud Barak now had an obligation to right the injustice that
had occurred and to allow the Jewish families to return to Beit
Kiryat Arba Council head Melachi Levinger, whose father, Moshe,
was among the founders of the Hebron Jewish community, said the court’s ruling
“proves our contention throughout all these years that we have the right to buy
property and settle anywhere in the Land of Israel.”
He called on Barak
to allow Jewish families to return both to Beit Hashalom and to another
structure that the community says it bought this year, Beit Hamachpela, located
near the Cave of the Patriarchs.
“This is a significant news, coming as
it does on the eve of Rosh Hashana when thousands of people come to visit the
Cave of the Patriarchs and the city of their forefathers,” Levinger said.