Peace Now petitions against civilians at Hebron army base

Organization's attorney acknowledges "it is possible that some of the plots were owned in the long distant past by Jews."

hebron 224 88 (photo credit: Ahmad Gharabli )
hebron 224 88
(photo credit: Ahmad Gharabli )
Peace Now petitioned the High Court of Justice on Tuesday demanding that the IDF remove civilians living in the former central bus station in Hebron, which has been used as an army base since 1983. Attorney Michael Sfard asked the court to order the military to either evacuate the two-dunam (0.2 hectare) site or seize it for military use according to the procedures laid down in international law. According to Orit Struck, spokeswoman for the Association for the Renewal of the Jewish Yishuv in Hebron, "Everyone agrees that the army base is situated on Jewish-owned land. The question is not why are we living in the midst of the army, but why is the army is living in our midst." The procedures for seizing land for military purposes include issuing an order in writing declaring that the property is required for military use and explaining why, precisely delineating the boundaries of the area to be seized and declaring for how long the property will be used by the army, allowing those who have rights to the land to object to the seizure and giving a detailed response to the objections. None of this has been done in the 25 years since the army occupied the two-dunam plot, located adjacent to Beit Romano, one of the buildings used by settlers in downtown Hebron. Sfard acknowledged that "it is possible that some of the plots were owned in the long distant past by Jews (since, as far as the petitioners know, they are registered in the tax records dating back to the Jordanian period as belonging to Yosef Yitzhak Shalom Schneirsohn/Shirzuk)." He said the mixture of soldiers and civilians in the compound violated the cardinal rule of international humanitarian law that calls for a clear distinction between soldiers and civilians. By installing civilians in a military facility, the government was turning them into a legitimate target for enemy attack, he wrote. Furthermore, he continued, seizing property for military purposes and then handing it over to civilians had been rejected by the High Court as illegal. According to international law, the occupying power could only seize property in occupied territory for security purposes, he said. Struck told The Jerusalem Post that everyone knew that an outline plan had been prepared for the construction of permanent buildings at the site for Jewish residents. "We are just waiting for the current government to be replaced," said Struck. She said the new neighborhood in downtown Hebron had been named the Hizkiya Quarter after Rabbi Haim Hizkiya Medina, author of the first Talmudic encyclopedia.