Right-wing activists to march on Hebron

Protesters plan to foil evacuation of disputed house; 49 MKs ask Barak to delay forcing settlers out.

disputed hebron home building 248.88 (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
disputed hebron home building 248.88
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Right-wing activists plan to march to Hebron from Jerusalem and Kiryat Malachi on Tuesday to help thwart an anticipated evacuation of the disputed four-story building in Hebron called Beit Hashalom. They plan to arrive on Wednesday, and hope to attract hundreds of marchers along the way. Once in Hebron, they will remain until the security forces arrive, according to members of Eretz Yisrael Faithful who have planned the march. Five new families, including that of MK Nissim Ze'ev (Shas), and several dozen young adults have already moved into the building, which is located on Worshipers Way at the edge of the city near the Kiryat Araba settlement. In solidarity with the Hebron settlers, 49 parliamentarians, including members of Kadima and the GIL pensioners' party, demanded on Monday that the IDF refrain from evacuating the building, according to Hebron Jewish community spokeswoman Orit Struck "Evacuation of the building should be avoided at least until after the elections," the parliamentarians wrote in a letter addressed both to Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter. The letter was sent one week after the High Court of Justice upheld the state's decision to evict the nine families who live there and gave them until last Wednesday to leave voluntarily. Settlers moved into the structure in March of 2007, claiming that they bought it from Palestinian Faez Rajabi. He denied the sale. The High Court of Justice ruling last week that the settlers should move out until the ownership dispute is settled has sparked a wave of protest by settlers and right-wing activists who have warned that they would strongly resist the move. Speaking in Kiryat Araba last week, MK Arye Eldad of the newly created Hatikvah party warned that the clashes with security forces would be worse than those which occurred in the winter of 2006 when 200 activists, soldiers and police were wounded during the destruction of nine homes at the Amona outpost. In Monday's letter to Barak and Dichter the parliamentarians said that the High Court of Justice had not obliged security personnel to evacuate the building, but rather only allowed it to do so, effectively leaving the evacuation to the government's discretion. "We express a sentiment of deep discrimination and injustice which has overshadowed the Beit Hashalom case from the outset," said the parliamentarians. In particular, they said, the settlers had put forward compelling evidence of purchase which the State Prosecutor had ignored. "We fear considerations pertaining to the upcoming elections might drag the government and the security forces into a severe conflict, which would be both redundant and harmful, like the evacuation of Amona," said the letter. Senior defense officials have said preparations to evacuate the house were in an advanced stage. During a situation assessment last Thursday Barak instructed the police and the IDF to submit a plan for evacuation in the coming days.