In the West Bank on Wednesday, Israeli police evicted 15 Israeli settlers from a house owned by Palestinians that had been taken over by Israeli settlers last week. Numerous Israeli legislators and officials, including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, criticized the eviction, and Lieberman even called for the replacement of Defense Minister Ehud Barak.The house in question is located in the old city of Hebron, southern West Bank, near the Ibrahimi Mosque. The settlers claim that they purchased the property by legal means, but the Palestinian family that owns the house, who are still living in the first floor of the building, denied the claim and challenged it in court.
According to the Israeli police, the eviction took place without incident, and the settlers who were removed from the site were released in Israel.
Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon was among those who called for Ehud Barak’s replacement after the eviction, saying “Ehud Barak is acting against the government and against the settlements in Judea and Samaria… It is imperative to check that the settler’s documents of sale are not counterfeit. If it turns out that they are in order, the purchase must be approved and the settlers allowed entry.”
All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal under international law, and many are also illegal under Israeli law. Hebron is the only Palestinian city that has Israeli settlers living in the heart of its built up area, side-by-side with (and sometimes, as in this case, in the same house as) Palestinians.
Ehud Barak and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu defended the move, saying that it was necessary to preserve security, and was carried out with careful consideration of all options.