State calls to evict Hebron squatters

A-G sides with petitioners against postponing evacuation of Triangle Market residents.

October 2, 2007 00:48
2 minute read.
State calls to evict Hebron squatters

hebron market 298.88. (photo credit: Channel 10)


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The attorney-general sided Monday with petitioners asking the High Court of Justice to cancel the decision by a civil administration appeals court to postpone the execution of eviction orders against Jews occupying four shops in Hebron's Triangle Market. The market is located near the Avraham Avinu complex in downtown Hebron. According to Hagit Ofran, head of Peace Now's Settlement Watch, the settlers moved in to the shops about two years ago. However, they broke into the shops from behind, she said, and were not discovered for more than a year. Several months ago, when Ofran realized they were there, she lodged a complaint with the police. Eventually, in June, the police, on orders from the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, posted eviction orders and gave the occupants 45 days to appeal. That appeal was filed on July 27, and the court postponed the eviction so authorities could investigate the claims of the Committee for the Renewal of the Jewish Community in Hebron, which represents the settlers. Their names have not been published. The Committee for the Renewal of the Jewish Community in Hebron told the appeals court that, as the representative body of the Jews currently living inside Hebron, the committee was acting in the name of the Jews who own the stores and were forced to flee the city during the 1929 massacre, or of their descendants. The committee also told the appeals court the Custodian of Jewish Properties had failed in its duty to protect the abandoned properties and to restore them to their rightful owners. It wants to cancel the authority of the custodian to administer the Jewish properties in Hebron. The appeals court ruled that these arguments need to be examined in depth and, consequently, suspended the eviction orders. In response, several Palestinians who had rented the stores from the custodian via the Palestinian Hebron municipality, petitioned the High Court against the ruling, charging that the appeals court had accepted the flimsiest of arguments in order to postpone the eviction. Their lawyer, Michael Sfard, said the Committee for the Renewal of the Jewish Community had not brought any proof to back its arguments. The state prosecution agreed. The state's representative, attorney Gilad Shirman, wrote, "The petition should be accepted. The state believes the appeals court decision to postpone the eviction in the circumstances was extremely unreasonable." Regarding the committee's arguments before the appeals court, Shirman wrote, "The Committee for the Renewal of the Jewish Community in Hebron does not provide a scrap of substantial evidence regarding its rights or the rights of those who are living in the stores on their behalf. The state believes the appeals court's decision even ignores the dishonesty of the squatters and the severe injury to the rule of law that would be sustained by failure to evacuate the squatters." The Committee for the Renewal of the Jewish Community in Hebron said the state had completely ignored "the owners of the Jewish properties, who were dispossessed only because they were Jews and who kept their ownership deeds throughout British rule and Jordanian occupation in the hope and faith that some day Israel would return to Hebron and restore to them their plundered property." According to the committee, the army closed down 280 shops, including the four in question, in 2001, after the Baruch Goldstein massacre. According to army documents, these structures were never again be used for commercial purposes. Why then, the settlers asked, should they not be given to Jews for homes, they were owned by Jews?

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