Hebron settlers to appeal decision to seal off rooms

Civil administration: Jewish families had illegally expanded into the rooms, which were abandoned shops once used by Palestinians.

hebron settlers 298.88 (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
hebron settlers 298.88
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
The civil administration has threatened to seal off four rooms that abut two Jewish-owned apartments at the edge of Hebron's Avraham Avinu neighborhood. A civil administration spokesman said Monday that the Jewish families had illegally expanded into the rooms, which were abandoned shops that had once been used by Palestinians. Standing outside the Avraham Avinu neighborhood in an area of deserted Palestinian shops with sealed graffiti-covered steel shutters, Noam Aron, a spokesman for the Hebron Jewish community, said the civil administration's desire to seal off the rooms was illogical and that the community planned to appeal. The land, he said, had historically been owned by the Jewish community. The Palestinians had shops here, he added, only because the former owners of the land were forced to flee after the Arabs killed 67 Jews in 1929. Behind him garbage spilled out from the closed off area, in back of a neighborhood of neat new apartments made from yellow stone. Given that the shops were built into the walls of Jewish apartments, Palestinians were not going to reopen the stores, Arnon said. Space in Hebron was tight, because the community was rarely given permission to expand, said Arnon. It was natural, he added, that the growing families would want to make use of space that was already almost an extension of their apartment. One mother of 10, with an 11th child on the way, said the two rooms were dirty and filled with insects and rodents when they took them over. She cleaned them out to make space for two of her older daughters, turning them into brightly colored children's rooms. Books lined the windowsill and paintings her daughter drew hung from the wall. It was a better use of space than to have the two dirty rooms extending from her apartment, she said. Arnon said that in the second apartment the room was used for two small children. But a spokesman for the civil administration said the land was under its control and that the rooms did not belong to the settler families. The issue was not the state of the shops but whether the families had a legal right to make use of the property, and they did not, said the spokesman. He added that if a family left its home and went to America for 10 years, the neighbors still did not have the right to make use of the abandoned property. The same was true for these families as well, he said.