Fifteen settler families occupied a Palestinian home in Hebron near the Haram al Ibrahimi mosque, on the night between Wednesday and Thursday.
The settlers claim they purchased the property from its Palestinian owner. The home, located near the playground of the Ibrahimi School, belongs to Abu Rajab family.
The settlers, who have renamed the home Beit Hamachpela, said they bought the home from its owner using the name of the grandson of the owner as the seller. Father and grandson use identical names, but the grandfather is the sole owner of the property.
Baruch Marzel, a right wing leader and settler in Hebron, commented on the home take over, claiming “this is a benchmark for the Likud: Can Jews buy homes in Israel, or do we look for excuses to drive Jews from their home. Behold, the building was purchased. In Migron they say the land is privately owned by Arabs. What will they say now?”
Baruch Marzel is an American-born Orthodox Jew and the leader of the Jewish National Front party. He claims to have been the “right hand man” of Rabbi Meir Kahane, acting as spokesman for the American rabbi’s Kach organization for ten years until it was outlawed in Israel and the US as a terrorist organization.
Israeli Knesset members Ze’ev Elkin and Aryeh Eldad also welcomed the settlers’ home take-over in Hebron. The Land of Israel Lobby in the Israeli parliament published a statement declaring that it “reminds the PM that the government is committed to Hebron development following a government decision to act on behalf of the security and establishment of the Hebron Jewish community, and calls to the PM to support the residents”.
The Land of Israel Lobby refers to the controversial Hebron “heritage tours” curriculum initiated by the Israeli Ministry of Education. The new program until now been geared only toward students in the Jerusalem school district; but last week, Sa’ar announced that it would be available to students across the country.
The visits to Hebron are part of a drive led by the ministry to strengthen “Jewish and Zionist values”, a drive which further include tours at an archaeological site at the Shiloh settlement in Silwan, conducted in cooperation with Elad, a group dedicated to Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem.
So far some 2,000 secular and 1,000 religious high school students have visited the Haram Al Ibrahimi, known also as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and the Beit Hadassah settlement. The program has not been made compulsory, but teachers fear that is the next step.
On Thursday, March 23, The United Nations’ Human Rights Council decided to dispatch a fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements. This mission would be the first international probe into the impact of settlements in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan on Palestinian rights. The resolution was adopted with 36 votes in favor and 10 abstentions. While Spain and Italy called for abstention, the United States was the only one to vote against the draft resolution.
* This article was published by the Alternative Information Center (AIC)