Court trying to force Israelis to leave Hebron compound

An Israeli group whose Hebron property purchase has been disputed by Palestinians now faces an unfavorable court ruling.

Security forces are preparing for a possible clash with a group of Israelis in the Beit Hamachpela compound in the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron after Israel’s High Court of Justice gave the state seven days to remove the Israeli group from the site.

The would-be residents say they purchased the property from the local Abu Rajab family in 2012, a claim the family rejects. The High Court of Justice and Civil Administration have repeatedly sided with the Palestinians on this issue by accepting the family’s claims that they never sold the building to Jewish buyers. Then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak evicted those in the building almost as soon as they entered it in 2012.

Since then, the Israeli group has tried to register their purchase of the building with the Civil Administration, but their claim of ownership has been consistently rejected on grounds that the would-be owners had not “proven purchase of the property, nor the possession of it.”

Israeli officials said they would try to encourage the residents to leave the site without physical resistance ahead of next week’s deadline, after which they would use force to extract them.

The current stand-off dates to the end of July, when the families entered the building following a Friday-night terror attack in Neve Tzuf north of Jerusalem earlier that month. Members of the Knesset and government ministers, including coalition chairman MK David Bitan of the Likud party, expressed support for the families, but the State Prosecutor’s Office was unmoved.

Spokespeople for the families said the decision “had no basis in law.”

“The state’s position is unfounded…The law does not require registration before possession,” the spokesperson said.