The Beit Hamachpela building in Hebron..
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Fifteen settler families are once more in danger of a forced IDF eviction from the Beit Hamachpela building in Hebron.
On Monday, the High Court of Justice upheld a state decision that the families entered the three-story building illegally last July, and it annulled an injunction that prevented their forced removal.
“Justice has finally come to light,” said attorney Samer Shihadih, who represents the Abu Rajab family. They claim ownership of the structure located across the park from the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the heart of Hebron’s Old City.
The Hebron Jewish community claims to have purchased a large portion of the structure from the descendants of the building’s original owner.
At issue is the legality of the sale, including the power of attorney used and whether the family member involved in the deal had rights to the property, which is registered to the Abu Rajab family.
The Defense Ministry has given the Hebron Jewish community the right to purchase the property, but it has not authorized their presence in the home.
The High Court upheld the state’s position that the Civil Administration must allow an initial registration of the property by the new owners before the Jewish families can move in. That process has not been completed.
Settlers had initially announced their purchase of most of the structure in 2012. They moved in without IDF approval and were forcibly removed. They entered again in 2013 but left as part of an agreement that they would wait until the property was initially registered in their name.
Last summer, the families illegally entered the structure and argued that in light of the protracted bureaucratic process, they had a right to be in the building. Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit disagreed.
Both the Hebron Jewish community and the Abu Rajab family petitioned the High Court on the matter. At the settlers’ request, it issued an injunction barring their eviction.
On Monday, the High Court annulled that injunction and ruled that the settlers could not be in the building prior to completion of the initial bureaucratic process.
It also rejected a request by the settlers for the forced removal of members of the Abu Rajab family who live in another section of the structure.