Settlers hopeful Netanyahu will let them stay in Hebron home

15 families are currently illegally occupying a home in the controversial city.

IDF Police detain Palestinians in Hebron (photo credit: REUTERS)
IDF Police detain Palestinians in Hebron
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Settlers implored Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow them to remain in a three-story structure in Hebron into which 15 families entered illegally on Tuesday night.
The families’ move comes five years after Hebron’s Jewish community first attempted to register their purchase claim to the apartment building with the Civil Administration.
The stone building – located in a Palestinian neighborhood in a section of the city under Israeli control – stands opposite the parking lot at the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Earlier this month, UNESCO inscribed to the “State of Palestine” the ancient biblical site as well as the Hebron’s Old Town that surrounds it.
From the rooftop of the house it is possible to see the Tomb above the other structures in the city. On the side of the building, a settler unfurled a large poster with Netanyahu’s picture on it and a request that he allow them to live there forever.
Netanyahu should take this step in light “of the scandalous decision of the foreign organization UNESCO, that decided that Jews did not have any rights to Hebron,” said Kiryat Arba Municipal Council head Malachi Levinger, adding, “We thought that these kind of decisions had gone from the world.”
Levinger spoke to several dozen supporters who had gathered in front of the stone structure that was adorned with Israeli flags. Many of the adults in attendance brought their children, some young enough to be in baby carriages.
Inside, 15 families were busy setting up homes in the sparsely furnished apartments. In one kitchen a number of teenage girls were cooking dinner, as a father walked into another with several boxes of pizza.
Defense officials meet with the families in the apartment building on Wednesday to discuss their fate.
Malachi Levinger’s brother Shlomo Levinger, a spokesman for the group, told The Jerusalem Post he was optimistic that the Defense Ministry would allow them to stay.
“With God’s help, I expect they will find a way for us to remain. This structure was purchased by Jews and they will continue to live here,” he said.
The families are asking the Defense Ministry to allow them to live in the structure while they gather the necessary proof of sale for a building they claim to have purchased from its Palestinian owners five years ago.
As soon as the families moved in, soldiers and border police were immediately posted by the building’s front door. Late on Tuesday, Netanyahu ordered the IDF not to remove the families overnight.
On Wednesday morning, the IDF declared the structure a closed military zone, but allowed the families to move in and out of the building.
Some visitors, officials and reporters were occasionally allowed in.
Earlier in the day, according to Reuters, Palestinians scuffled with the IDF at the door to the house, but otherwise the day passed fairly peacefully.
Yesh Atid Party chairman Yair Lapid called on Netanyahu to remove the settlers: “The Hebron infiltrators have only imposed an additional strain on the security forces during a tense period.
They must be evacuated without hesitation.”
Likud Ministers Ze’ev Elkin and Yair Levin as well as Bayit Yehudi Minister Uri Ariel called on Netanyahu to allow them to remain.
The attorney for the families, Doron Nir Zvi, said when Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit was cabinet secretary, he had told the families that they had enough documents to be able to live in the house.
In 2012, when the families first put forward their purchase claim to the building, they had similarly attempted to live it, entering the structure without the necessary permits. The IDF removed them and sealed the building