Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz ordered on Thursday that the settlers who occupied a Palestinian house in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, should be evacuated. However, he did not set a deadline for the evacuation.Peretz stated that the deadline for the evacuation is to be determined by the government's legal advisors, and that they should now determine the “legal process of the evacuation”.
Although the house is privately owned by Palestinian residents of Hebron, the settlers could gain time by resorting to “legal procedures” in order to delay the evacuation.
Israeli online daily, Haaretz, quoted a military official stating that implementing the evacuation order could take “weeks or even more”
The settlers occupied the house on March 19th, and claimed that they purchased it from its Palestinian owners, Haaretz added.
The property in question is a four-story building and the Israeli authorities said that they “need to clarify the legal status of the house”.
Peretz said that the legal status of the house in irrelevant in this case since the settlers did not obtain approval to inhabit the property as the Israeli regulations require.
Moreover, Israeli security officials said that the army was not given any order or any time scale for the evacuation, and that Peretz objected to the settlers' claim to the house, since they have made several such claims in recent weeks.
Haaretz also said that although Peretz has the authority to carry out the evacuation, he will most likely consult with the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, before carrying taking any action.
Meanwhile, the Yesha Council of Settlements sent a message to journalists stating that the “settlers would fight the evacuation decision”.
There are 500 Israeli settlers living in Hebron, they are heavily guarded by the Israeli army and yet they carry automatic rifles and repeatedly attack the Palestinian residents of the city, who complained to the Israeli Police and Army- to no avail. 160,000 Palestinians are living in Hebron.