Za’tari Family in Hebron Implores Defense Minister to Evict Settler Squatters

The al-Za’tari family from Hebron on Wednesday appealed to the Israeli Defense Minister to enforce the law on settlers who broke into and have squatted in the family’s house on a-Sahleh Street in Hebron near the Tomb of the Patriarchs three weeks ago. A letter sent by the family’s lawyer, Attorney Samer Shehadeh, to the Minister of Defense and the Civil Administration, stated that the settlers’ claim of purchase “has no basis in reality, since my clients and/or their representatives never sold their ownership rights in their homes.”

Shehadeh further added, “The permit granted by the Land Registry Officer on the alleged transaction does not have the power to allow the settlers to enter the homes of my clients, and is merely a precondition for getting an audience with the First Registration Committee, which is the judicial body authorized to decide on the registration of the rights for the land,” he said.

In the end of his statement, Shehadeh announced that if the houses were not promptly evacuated, the family would appeal to the High Court of Justice.

The al-Za’tari family had to leave their home during the Second Intifada, like hundreds of families and businesses in the Old City of Hebron, due to the heavy restrictions imposed by the IDF on Palestinians in order to protect the settlers.

In January 2016, settlers broke into the al-Za’tari family’s house claiming that they had purchased it from the owners, but following the family’s complaint to the police they were evacuated a few days after the break-in.

The settler break-in on 26 March 2018 was carried out immediately after the Land Registry Officer issued a “transactional permit” to the settlers, enabling them to begin a process of proving ownership and bringing the purchase claims for review before the relevant authority on this matter–the First Registration Committee.

Peace Now: “The ink has not yet dried in the High Court of Justice’s decision to evacuate the Abu Rajab House, where settlers also broke into and squatted, yet the settlers dare to break into another house without the same approval they lacked in that case. The government must evict the trespassers immediately; the settlers have not proven any ownership. The behavior of the government and recent statements by the defense minister raise the suspicion that this home invasion was carried out in coordination with the defense ministry, and that the government lent a hand to breaking the law and stealing. Instead of protecting the landowner’s rights, the government is helping robbers seeking to take possession of the property without allowing the current owners their rightful legal avenue to prove ownership. The establishment of a new settlement house in the heart of Hebron is a severe blow to the fragile situation in Hebron and is liable to cause new restrictions on the movement of Palestinians.”