IDF holding off on Hebron evacuation after deadline passes

Prime minister expected to hold ministerial meeting on the issue of the setters' building; spokesman for residents: We're not getting ready to leave, we're getting ready for Passover.

Border police near Beit Hamchpela_370 (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Border police near Beit Hamchpela_370
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
The IDF did not move immediately to evacuate 15 Jewish families from the three-story Hebron apartment building at 3 p.m. Tuesday, the time given for its residents to voluntarily leave or risk a forced removal.

At 6 p.m. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to hold a ministerial meeting on the issue of the building, called Beit Hamachpela (House of the Patriarchs).Politicians and settlers have speculated that little will happen in Hebron until after the meeting.A spokesman for the 15 families who moved into the vacant building on Thursday Shlomo Levinger came outside to speak with the media shortly before 3 p.m.“We are not getting ready to leave,” he said. “We are busy getting ready for Passover.”Dani Dayan who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip joined Levinger briefly.“Why should there be an evacuation?” he said.Levinger has told the media, including The Jerusalem Post, that Jews from Hebron purchased the structure from its Palestinian owner.Security sources have said that the sale is legitimate but they are checking to make sure if the Palestinian who sold it to the settlers had the authority to do so.In its evacuation order issued Monday the Civil Administration said that the settlers had not sought the necessary permits to authenticate the sale and to reside in the structure.Levinger said that the last documents needed to request such permits were turned in today.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 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.Border police have cordoned off the building. Only members of the 15 Jewish families and politicians have been allowed to go in and out. Even reporters have been kept at bay.