Permission granted for Israelis to live in Beit HaMachpela

Jewish residents may finally be able to return to the building purchased almost ten years ago.

26.8.19, 22:39
After ten years, it seems that full permission has finally be granted for Israelis to live in the Beit HaMachpela building located across near the Tomb of Machpela in Hebron.
The four-story complex, located behind the main parking lot outside the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs has been to focus of numerous legal battles for Israelis to be able to purchase property in the city.
Even after the monetary transaction, legal hurdles included extra permissions from various government authorities. On Sunday, the IDF Civil Administration, the military body that has jurisdiction over civilian life in Judea and Samaria, ruled that at least half the building can be occupied by the purchasers, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Minister of Transportation Bezalel Smotrich praised the move stating it was "a tremendous joy" to see Jewish people returning to the city of the Patriarchs. "A true salute to all those involved in expanding the Jewish settlement in the oldest Hebrew city in the world," he said. Smotrich added "it's a deep shame that it took so long."
Harhivi Makom Ohalech, the organization which conducted the real estate transaction and purchased then then-vacant building, praised the move, noting it came the same week as the 90th anniversary of the infamous Hebron massacre which resulted in the expulsion of all Jews from Hebron.
The Palestinian Authority resident who arranged the sale of the property, Muhammad Abu Shahala, was arrested for the crime of selling land to Jews. He was sentenced to death, and has been in prison ever since. The Jewish Community of Hebron sent a petition to the United Nations pleading for a stay of execution.
At one time, the Abu Rajab clan of Hebron had occupied the building but it sat vacant for years before the sale. Various family members have since publicly claimed that no sale had taken place.
In 2013 the Military Appeals Committee accepted an appeal and determined that the Jewish purchasers registration process did indeed meet threshold conditions.
In June 2017, the Appeals Committee again determined in favor of the Jewish purchasers stating the Preliminary Registration Committee erred in a series of errors and ostensibly ignored key documents they received. It was decided to return the hearing to the First Registration Committee to review all the documents in the case.
About 100 people -- 15 families, moved in and lived there for eight months, but were forced out in March 2018 as the Abu Rajab family took the case back to court. The residents had previously been evicted in 2012.
The Times of Israel reported families comprising about 40 residents moved into the Machpela House building "in celebratory fashion on Sunday, decking the building with Israeli flags."
This is not the first time the court system has upheld the law in the case of Israelis seeking to live in Hebron. In July 2019, the Supreme Court ruled not to use the IDF to evict Israeli residents from Beit Rachel and Beit Leah. The two vacant structures were legally purchased from the Za'atari family, residents of the Palestinian Authority, who later argued they never sold the property.
The petitioners did not prove that they legally possessed the property prior to the Israeli residents entering the buildings, the court ruled.
In 2007, Israelis first moved into Beit HaShalom, a large structure on the road from Kiryat Arba into Hebron. It was purchased for over 1 million US dollars by a Jewish-American businessman with family ties to the pre-1929 Hebron community. Allegations of forged deeds and other excuses were eventually rejected by the same Supreme Court that ordered the eviction of the residents in 2008. Today, the structure has permanent residents and a small hospitality area for IDF soldiers.
Another plot of land in contention is the old wholesale market, located at the entrance to the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. Although the land was purchased by Jews in 1807, the structures that now exist were built by the Jordanians in the 1960s. Last week, Jewish residents in Hebron launched a campaign to allow new construction to take place.
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