Welcome to the next big Israeli sovereignty story – which on Wednesday morning is expected to take place in Hebron. The Hebron brigade commander declared the area of the Machpela House with its rightful Jewish owners a closed military zone, but inside the contested residential building folks remain optimistic. “We returned home, believing they would not evacuate us,” the residents told anyone who would listen. Of course, this is what they were saying back in June 2013, when Ehud Barak was Defense Minister, and December 2015, when Moshe Ya’alon held the job. In both cases they were repulsed. Which is why senior Likud ministers have been calling on the current Defense Minister, Avigdor Liberman, to let them stay.
On Wednesday morning in Hebron, dozens of young men and women who entered the Machpela House the day before, woke up to discover that the Hebron Brigade commander had signed an order stating that their place is a closed military zone, no unauthorized entrance or exit – which is what the IDF does before evicting Jewish residents from their rightfully owned property.
On Tuesday night, Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered the army not to evacuate them, which means that for now there is a stalemate between the military brass and the political echelon. What normally happens in such cases is the PM sends the issue to some judicial committee, usually a military one, and they make the unpopular decision for him and for his Defense Minister du jour.
“Two weeks ago, UNESCO decided that Hebron is a Palestinian heritage site,” Rabbi Shlomo Levinger told NRG. “At the same time, in recent days we have seen Jewish blood spilling. And we want to say loudly that the real answer is building the land, both in Hebron and throughout the Land of Israel.”
“It is also important for the government to understand the meaning of building the land and will allow us to live in a house that we bought and paid for,” Levinger added, noting the residents “do not confront the forces outside the house. They respect us and we respect them. Everything is done calmly and with the understanding that we are the owners of this house.”
Machpela House is a three-story, five-level building in Hebron, near the Tomb of the Patriarchs. It was purchased legally on behalf of the Jewish residents in 2012, and on March 29 that years 15 Jewish families moved in. A week later, on April 4, 2012, Israeli Police evicted them and sealed the building on orders from Defense Minister Barak.
The legal battle that has been going on between the families and the IDF civil government in Judea and Samaria has largely been decided more than once in favor of the Jewish owners. At the bottom of it is the fact that land owners and brokers who sell the Jews are subject to the death penalty under Palestinian Authority law. As a result, land purchases from Arab owners are conducted through fictitious companies and without official registration of the transactions in Ramallah.
As a result, those deals are occasionally challenged by alleged “real” owners, who are often the relatives of the original owners who had already had their bite of the apple. This is only made possible by the unique combination of a Palestinian Authority which is bloodthirsty and anti-Semitic and at the same time corrupt to the bone. But the problem is not with the PA, because they can’t help being bloodthirsty, anti-Semitic and corrupt. The problem is with Defense Ministers who direct their military officials to embrace and endorse those acts of fraud, often with the backing of the High Court of Justice.