Students spend night in Hebron home

Settlers: House purchased for $700,000; Palestinian occupant: I never sold it.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
The Jewish community of Hebron celebrated Monday evening after 200-300 students moved into a house in a Palestinian neighborhood on the road between Kiryat Arba and the Machpela Cave. According to Hebron Jewish community spokesman David Wilder, representatives of the community purchased the building through an office in Jordan for the sum of $700,000. Wilder said they planned on calling the house "Bayit Hashalom (house of peace), in the hope that it can be the bridge for better relations." "We feel it is a very important location... it can be a link between the Jewish community of Kiryat Arba and Hebron," said Wilder. He said that although they had not yet decided on the use for the massive building, "it's very, very likely that there will be families there." The building, he added, could also hold a school or offices in the future. Security forces were stationed around the building Monday night but the situation remained calm in the city, often seen as a tinderbox for conflict among Jewish and Arab residents and security forces. But the occupant of the house, Fayez Rajabi, told members of the B'tselem organization that he did not sell the house to the settlers. Rajabi filed an official complaint with the police on Monday night. Judea and Samaria District Police said they were looking into the issue and checking the documents. Wilder confirmed that the community had turned over to authorities the legal papers documenting the sale and the transfer of ownership. "The papers have been checked very, very thoroughly by our attorneys," Wilder added. But B'tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli said it was not sufficient simply to check the documents' veracity, and that it was the role of the IDF to prevent the settlers from moving into the house, even if it was legally acquired. "Our opposition in principle is that these settlements should be evacuated anyway and that there shouldn't be these pockets in Hebron," said Michaeli, adding that "other than watching and making sure that [the sale] was done in a legal way, the IDF has the obligation to make sure that settlers don't take over more areas."