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One of the students who moved into a hotly contested home in Hebron on Monday evening dismissed claims by the Palestinian former owner that the house had not been sold, saying that the homeowner was telling the story "out of his fear of revenge from other Palestinians."
Oren Zach told Army Radio in an interview that the sale had been carried out officially and legally, and that police were still investigating the ownership of the house due to the web of bureaucracy that complicates property issues in the West Bank area.
Students spend night in Hebron home
Zach expressed reassurance that the situation would not turn violent. "We came to the building to build the land of Israel. This is a happy day for us, since we've merited to redeem another place in the city of the patriarchs."
The son of the former owner, however, had a different story to tell. Se'il Rajabi told Army Radio that the house had belonged to his family for 15 years, and that they had never sold it to anyone.
"Our grandfather bought the house many years ago. We have all the documents that will testify to that, and it's all legal," he said. "The settlers always come and cause us trouble."
A representative of the Palestinian Land and Housing Committee in Hebron called the settlers' claim that they had bought the property ridiculous. He said the story had been "prepared in advance in order to justify the takeover for public opinion and the Israeli and world media."
He added that the claim was "meant to create confusion in the Palestinian community, and the settlers must be removed from the house."
Left-wing organizations B'tselem and Peace Now have slammed the settlers for taking over the house, which is located in a Palestinian neighborhood between Kiryat Arba and the Machpela cave, claiming that even if the sale was legal, the settlements should be evacuated in any case, rather than expanded.