The Civil Administration on Sunday told two Jewish families living in Hebron that they have until Friday to evacuate two shops of an abandoned Palestinian marketplace next to the Jewish Avraham Avinu complex.
The Civil Administration did not say what steps it would take if the families do not leave by Friday.
The Hebron Jewish community and its attorney, former justice minister Yaakov Neeman, appealed to Defense Minister Ehud Barak not to evacuate the families. Legal appeals to prove the families' right to live there have failed.
In their letters to Barak, Neeman and the Hebron Jewish community said the marketplace was owned by Jews and had been operated by them prior to the 1929 Hebron massacre that destroyed the Jewish community.
Following the War of Independence in 1948, Jordan took control and gave it to the Custodian of Abandoned Properties. The market was leased to the Hebron Municipality, which allowed the merchants to stay. That situation continued after Israel reclaimed the area in 1967.
The Palestinian merchants were expelled in 1994 and the shops remained empty until 2001, when Jews moved in. In September 2006, two Jewish families returned to the empty shops.
In his letter to Barak, Neeman said it was illogical to ask Jewish families to leave property that was owned by Jews, in the name of an empty marketplace that had not been operational for 13 years, and for which there was no plan to release to Palestinian merchants.
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