IDF soldier stands guard near Beit Hamachpela_370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Security forces evacuated the disputed Hebron home Beit Hamachpela on Wednesday afternoon with no disturbances.The evacuation came as a surprise, following earlier reports that the home would not be evacuated until April 25th.
The evacuation came after the attorney-general, Yehuda Weinstein, informed the prime minister
and the defense minister that, in his opinion, the Hebron house must be
evacuated without delay, according to a Justice Ministry spokesman.
The attorney-general insisted that there was no need for a government
decision to be made regarding the eviction, and that the eviction must
be enforced immediately, because of the importance of maintaining the
rule of law, the spokesman added.
"I won't allow settlers to dictate how the government runs the country" Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, adding that the request for a permit will still be reviewed. Barak continued that the decision to evacuate the home was part of his responsibility to safeguard democracy and the rule of law in Israel.
Late Tuesday night, 15 Hebron Jewish families held a small housewarming party in their newly purchased building, as the ministers met in Jerusalem to decide their fate.
Sources close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that they did not expect a battle between Barak and Likud ministers to lead to a coalition crisis because both sides understood why it was important for him to take the middle ground.
Netanyahu referred to the Hebron building during a press conference he called on Tuesday to mark the third-year anniversary of the establishment of his government, and said that he and Barak were “in coordination.”
Netanyahu said he had asked for a delay in the evacuation order so that the facts of the case could be clarified, saying that this was a single, specific instance rather than an case of the government trying to expand the Jewish settlement of Hebron.
Residents of the outpost on Tuesday said they received a surprise visit from top military officers, which they assumed was advance preparation for the evacuation.
The spokesperson for the 15 families that occupied the building, Shlomo Levinger, told the media, including The Jerusalem Post
, that Jews from Hebron purchased the structure from its Palestinian owner.
He said that the last documents needed to request the necessary permits to remain were turned in Tuesday.
But in its evacuation order, the civil administration said permits were not the only issues.
The settlers’ presence in the apartment building could upset the fragile status quo in the city between Israelis and Palestinians, and could create friction between the two groups, the administration said.
The building is located in a Palestinian neighborhood in a section of Hebron under Israeli military control. It is situated across a small park from the Cave of the Patriarchs.Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report