Under orders from the defense minister, the IDF forced Jews in Hebron out of buildings they claim to have legally purchased. Many government ministers are demanding they be allowed to return.
Israeli forces on Friday evicted dozens of Jews from two buildings in Hebron that they apparently had legally bought. On Thursday, they took possession of two abandoned buildings and named the structures Beit Rachel and Beit Leah, meaning, The House of Rachel and the House of Leah, in reference to the biblical Jacob’s wives.
Hebron is also known as the City of the Patriarchs, as it is the home of the ancient Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, Judaism’s most ancient holy site, which, according to the Bible, Abraham purchased thousands of years ago.
Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the IDF removed 80 people who had moved into the buildings.
Members of Knesset Oren Hazan and Ayoub Kara of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, as well as MK Bezalel Smotrich of Jewish Home, said they would not attend Knesset votes until the Israelis were allowed back into the buildings, Times of Israel reported, adding that “the ultimatum by the three MKs could pose a serious threat to Netanyahu’s tenuous coalition, which holds only a 61-59 seat majority in the parliament.”
“The Jewish Home party, in an official statement, decried Ya’alon’s decision to ‘throw Jews out of their homes…at the height of a wave of terror,’” the Times continued. “The party called the move ‘irresponsible, bullheaded and inflammatory with no clear reason.’ It advised Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to save such decisive action ‘for fighting Arab terror and clearly illegal construction in the terrorists’ communities.’”
Jewish Home MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli warned that “if Netanyahu cares about maintaining the coalition, he had better intervene and restrain [Ya’alon].”
She claimed that “time after time homes are purchased legally within a web of complications, but once again the defense minister orders them evicted or demolished without a fair legal process being conducted.”
Immigration and Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin of Likud also criticized the evacuation, the Times continued, saying that “this is a time to fight terror and support and strengthen the settlements, not fight the settlers.”
“Settlement is an important Zionist act and we should persist in it,” Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud) stated. If the homes were purchased legally, the owners should be permitted to return, she said.
Meanwhile, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein of Likud urged authorities to review the legality of the transaction rather than to rush and evict the Israelis, particularly “in times when our enemies try to harm not just our bodies, but our rights to the land.”
According to Channel 2 TV, the evicted Israelis urged Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to check the legality of their property deeds “and join us in the glory of the Land of Israel.”
“The residents of Beit Leah and Beit Rachel are troubled over the defense minister’s rapid insistence that we evacuate the homes we properly acquired, and all this despite wall-to-wall support from many government members,” the television channel quoted them as saying, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The extreme left supported Ya’alon’s actions, particularly Peace Now, which opposes Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and even went as far as to calling them “plagues” during the Passover season.
“The government, not right-wing groups, must decide whether to settle and when, after an extensive and thorough examination into the genuineness of the deal,” Peace Now stated in a letter, according to the Post. “Even if the settlers paid for the buildings, the entire Israeli public will pay the military and diplomatic costs of expanding the settlements in the heart of Hebron.”
About 850 Israelis live in Hebron, surrounded by tens of thousands of Palestinian Arabs. There was always a Jewish presence in Hebron, Judaism’s second-holiest city, where King David established his first kingdom in Judea, other than between August 1929 and June 1967.
On Aug. 23, 1929, after living peacefully among the Arab population for many years, the Jewish community of Hebron was massacred; 67 were killed, and their homes and synagogues were destroyed. The few hundred survivors left the city, and for the first time in centuries, there were no remaining Jews.
During the Six Day War, the day after liberating the Old City of Jerusalem, the IDF also liberated Hebron, which had been occupied by Jordan since 1948, when the Arab nations attacked the fledgling Jewish state and captured the Old City of Jerusalem as well as Judea and Samaria, the biblical heartland. Prior to 1948, the land was British-mandated territory and, before that, under the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
The Arab section of Hebron is a hotbed of Palestinian violence. Several terror cells were captured there by Israeli security forces, and a radio station was recently shut down for incitement.