IDF: Settlers in Hebron building may harm security

Police, IDF look into claims the settlers bought the home; IDF sources are critical the move ahead of Land Day events.

By
March 29, 2012 18:27
2 minute read.
Settlers enter building in Hebron.

Settlers enter building in Hebron 370. (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)

 
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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 Israeli control.

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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 owner.

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 death.

The Palestinian police did not confirm the arrest.

Israeli 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 Jerusalem.

Hundreds of thousands of activists are expected to rush Israel’s borders and march from the West Bank in the direction of Jerusalem.

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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 added.

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 visitors.

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 March.

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.

They eventually 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 legally purchased.”

He called on security forces to rescue the former Palestinian building owner, whose life is now in danger.

National Union 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.

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