Families Move into Beit Machpelah, IDF Set to Evacuate

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli soldiers in Chevron on Tuesday. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

UPDATE (5:15): According to The Jerusalem Post, Prime Minister Netanyahu has ordered the Defense Ministry not to evacuate.

Following is the original story: The IDF appeared poised to evacuate a group of families who moved into Beit Machpelah in Chevron, the ownership of which they have been claiming in courts for the past five years.

The 15 families, numbering over 100 people altogether, entered the house without authorization on Tuesday, with intention to stay. The building is located across the parking lot from Me’aras Hamachpelah, and stands next to two Palestinian schools in a Palestinian section of the city.

The group released a statement explaining their action: “The Machpela house was purchased a number of years ago but to our great chagrin, the Israeli government has prevented the families from living in the houses they bought for more than five years with no legal or moral justification.

“In these days of Jewish blood being spilt, of bereavement and weakness of our government in the face of terror, we call on the government to strengthen settlement and demonstrate fidelity towards the land of Israel. In the face of murder of Jews, of national hesitation, we demand that the government immediately allow the families to live in the Machpela house.”

The families appealed a 2015 decision by the Registration Committee not to uphold their claim that they purchased it legally from Palestinian owners. Last month, a military appeals court sent the matter back to the Registration Committee, which apparently signaled that they might win the case, but the matter is still pending.

Army forces have cordoned off the building and are preparing to remove the families, according to Channel 10.

This is not the first such confrontation. The IDF forcibly removed the families in 2012, the first time they moved into the building. Since then it’s been sealed.

“There are men, women, children and babies here,” said Shlomo Levinger, on behalf of the people inside.

“We call on the government to bravely raise the flag of settlements and faithfulness to the land of Israel,” Levinger said.

Enough authorizations have been given for the project to allow families to move in, he told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday night, speaking by phone from inside the home.

Peace Now denounced the group and urged “zero tolerance.”

“After they have failed time and again to prove ownership, the settlers have decided to ignore the law and invade the home, with the intent to create a new settlement that will inflame the area,” Peace Now said.

From Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Minister of Environmental Protection Zeev Elkin they won praise, however, and called on the prime minister and the defense minister to allow the families to remain as an “appropriate nationalist response” to Palestinian terrorism in recent days.