Israeli sources reported on Monday night that some 200 armed Israeli settlers, seized Monday evening a Palestinian-owned house in the West Bank city of Hebron, claiming ownership. The settlers, all yeshiva youth students, broke into a Palestinian home located near the main road between the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba’ and some Palestinian residential buildings. The settlers alleged that the house had been legally purchased a few years ago. Settlers in Hebron have attracted much attention to themselves in the past as religious extremists. A member of the Israeli Knesset (pariament), MK Schneller, visited Hebron today to show support for the settlers.
Israeli media sources said that the Israeli army has launched an investigation into these allegations.
An Israeli online daily reported that the settlers are claiming that they own the house, and that they have legal documents proving this. The house is located near a road that links Kiryat Arba illegal Israeli settlement to the Cave of the Patriarchs, which is in very close proximity to the Ibrahimi Mosque.
A spokesperson of the settlers said that ‘the settlers entered the house because it was bought’ and that it is a big house on the hill that leads to Kiryat Arba settlement. The Yesha Council of Settlements issued a statement saying that ‘the settlers are continuing the path of their Father Abraham, who bought the cave of the patriarchs’ the Israeli news reported.
Meanwhile, the owner of the house, a Palestinian civilian named Bayiz Al Rajabi, says that he possesses all the documents proving his ownership. Al Rajabi added that he is the sole owner of the house and that he has never contacted the settlers.
Instances in which Israeli settlers have taken over Palestinian-owned houses in Hebron have been common over the past few years. Last year, illegal Israeli settlers seized the house of the Palestinian Shapira family under the same pretext. The purchase allegations were proved to be false and the house was evacuated of the settlers.
At least 400 Israeli settlers, of the Kiryat Arba’ settlement, are occupying a large area of this ancient Palestinian city, where about 20, 0000 Palestinians are inhabited. As a result, there is a constant massive Israeli military presence in the city. Not only does this restrict the movement and freedom of Palestinian civilians, it often denies them basic human and legal rights.
Hebron is considered one of the flashpoints in the occupied West Bank, where an international monitoring group has been observing and reporting frequent clashes between the Israeli settlers and Palestinian inhabitants for the past decade.