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Israeli settlers raid Palestinian home, move in furniture despite court ruling

July 26, 2017 9:43 P.M. (Updated: July 27, 2017 9:56 A.M.)
(Photo credit: Mamun Wazwaz)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- A day after raiding a Palestinian home in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, settlers began moving furniture into the house on Wednesday, in spite of an Israeli court ruling stating that they were not allowed inside the building.

Residents of the Abu Rajab house, located in the Old City of Hebron near the Ibrahimi Mosque, have been embroiled in a legal battle with Israeli settlers for years, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his intention to encourage the establishment of a new illegal Israeli settlement there to be named Beit Hamachpela.

However, Israeli authorities have not granted permission to establish the settlement on the grounds that the settlers have failed to prove their alleged purchase of the Palestinian house, as the Palestinians have accused the settlers of forging the documents.

On Tuesday, settlers escorted by Israeli soldiers had raided the building in an attempt to take it over.

Hazem Abu Rajab al-Tamimi, a resident of the house, told Ma’an that Israeli settlers attempted again to raid the house on Wednesday morning but were thwarted by the Abu Rajab family.

However, the settlers later took over the second and third floors of the building, in addition to raiding the first floor, where the Palestinian family lives.

Al-Tamimi said that Israeli soldiers threatened to detain him and his brothers when they tried to protect their home, as a video shared by NGO Human Rights Defenders showed soldiers manhandling Abu Rajab family members as scores of young Israeli settlers looked on, jeering.

A Ma’an reporter on the scene saw Israeli settlers moving furniture and belongings inside the house under armed protection by Israeli forces, who were deployed around the house, adding that the home had reportedly been turned into a closed military zone.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that they were looking into the case.

Israeli settlers have claimed that they bought the house from its owners, however, the Palestinian owners sued the Israeli settlers in court and accused them of forging documents in an attempt to steal the house, as al-Tamimi said on Wednesday that the settlers’ claims were “pure fabrications and lies.”

The Abu Rajab family home consists of three floors. Al-Tamimi said that the Israeli court decided, due to to ongoing case regarding the house, that no one could enter the second and third floors of the house until a court decision was reached.

The court also decided to keep the house under the “protection” of the Israeli army and the Israeli Civil Administration, he said. Hebrew-language media had meanwhile reported that Netanyahu had appointed coordinators from the Israeli army to negotiate with the settlers and evacuate them.

Al-Tamimi said that the settlers had chosen to ignore the court’s ruling, adding that “they even refuse to apply their prime minister’s decision.”
(Photo credit: Mamun Wazwaz)

“The long legal battle over who owns the property has not yet come to an end but that did not stop the settlers from invading it,” Israeli NGO and settlement watchdog Peace Now said on Tuesday.

“The establishment of a new settlement in Beit HaMachpela will severely hinder Palestinian freedom of movement and add to the rising tensions in the area,” the statement continued.

"We demand that the government orders the immediate evacuation of the settlers who invaded Beit HaMachpela. After their claims of ownership had been denied, the settlers have decided to take the law into their own hands and establish an illegal settlement that might ignite the region. We call upon the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense to follow the law and the Israeli interest and evacuate the trespassers without delay."

Located in the center of Hebron -- one of the largest cities in the occupied West Bank -- the Old City was divided into Palestinian and Israeli-controlled areas, known as H1 and H2, following the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre.

Some 800 notoriously aggressive Israeli settlers now live under the protection of the Israeli military in the Old City, surrounded by more than 30,000 Palestinians.

Palestinian residents of the Old City face a large Israeli military presence on a daily basis, with at least 20 checkpoints set up at the entrances of many streets, as well as the entrance of the Ibrahimi Mosque itself.
(Photo credit: Mamun Wazwaz)
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