Israelis Renovate Palestinian House in Hebron; IDF Claims the Works are for Military Needs

Some days ago, Israelis entered the home of the Arafeh family in the Casbah area of Old City Hebron and started renovating the property.

In the 1980s, the Avraham Avinu settlement was established in the Old City of Hebron, next to the Arafeh family home. The Arafeh family, like hundreds in the area, had to abandon their homes in 2005 because of the IDF’s restrictions on movement in the area.

Adv. Samer Shehadeh applied to the IDF’s legal advisor in the name of the family demanding that the settlers be evicted from their homes, but till today, two weeks after, no response was given.

Following the publication of the Palestinians claim, the spokesperson of the Civil Administration told reporters that the works were done for the IDF in order to set a military post in the house and on its roof. However, the family never got any notification not to say a seizure order as required by law. The Palestinian owners of the house did not have any way to know who broke into their home, because of the restrictions posed by the IDF in the area.

Peace Now: “If the works were done for the IDF, it is a shame that the IDF does not respect Palestinian ownership and treats their empty homes as if they were no-man’s property. The Palestinians were forced to leave their houses because of the heavy restrictions imposed by the IDF in order to protect the settlers in Hebron. Those “temporary” restrictions have remained in place now for decades, and the way the IDF and the settlers treat the Palestinian properties show that the security excuse cannot hold anymore and that what is done in the Old City of Hebron may be better described as forced displacement. If the works were done by the settlers, then it is part of a cruel method of the Palestinian dispossession in Hebron: first the IDF closes streets, shops and Palestinian homes to protect a handful of settlers. Then, because of the severe restrictions, Palestinian families are forced to leave their homes. And then settlers take over the empty houses without any permit. Finally the government allows them to remain and establish a new, illegal settlement in the heart of the Palestinian population.”

Cases of settlers take over of houses abandoned by Palestinians in the Old City of Hebron:

Bakri House – About a month and a half ago, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled that the settlers should evacuate the Bakri house in Tel Rumeida, after they entered it in 2001. At first, the settlers claimed that they had rented the property from the owners, then purchased it, and finally claimed that they were acting in the name of a Jewish trust that owned the area in the 19th century. Their claims were repeatedly denied in court. However, to this day the settlers continue to live in the house because the government refrained from enforcing the law on them.

Abu Rajab House – About a year ago, the settlers evacuated the house of Abu Rajab (known by the settlers as Beit HaMachpela, or “the House of the Patriarchs”) after the Supreme Court ruled that they should evacuate it. It later was revealed that Defense Minister Lieberman gave the settlers “permission” to take over the Za’tari family home, in return for a quiet evacuation of the Abu Rajab house.

Za’tari House – In both cases of the Za’tari and Abu Rajab houses, settlers claimed that they had purchased the houses from their owners, but to this day they have not been able to prove the purchases and register the house in their name. Despite this, the government did not do its duty and did not evacuate them until the High Court intervened. A petition by the Za’tari family to evacuate the settlers from their home is scheduled for discussion on 8 July 2019.

Nazar House – In 2006, settlers entered the home of the Nazar family on Shuhada Street in Hebron, claiming that they had rented the house from the owners. In those days, Amir Peretz (Labor) was appointed Minister of Defense and the government rushed to evacuate them. Soldiers carrying out the eviction were forced to confront the settlers who opposed the evacuation and threw objects and paint at them.

The Wholesale Market – About a decade ago, settlers entered a series of shops in the wholesale market and built apartments there. Only after the High Court intervened were they evicted. Again, soldiers were confronted with violence.

Shops in the Hisba market – Following a petition by shop owners and Peace Now to the High Court, settlers were evicted from four shops they had invaded in the Hisba market (near the Avraham Avinu neighborhood).

Additional Incidents – In addition, over the years, the settlers have taken over many shops near the Avraham Avinu settlement and other properties in the Beit Hadassah area. They have never been evicted.

Works on renovations at Arafeh family house