200 Jews Enter New Building in Hevron: 'Peace House'
Over 200 Jews, mostly yeshiva students from the Hevron area, entered a four-story building in the City of the Patriarchs Monday night, and have named it "Shalom House." MK Chaim Oron (Meretz) says the government must throw them out.
Click here for a photo essay of the "Shalom House."
The house, which is only partially built and stood empty, was purchased by the Jews from its previous Arab owner two years ago. It is strategically located, in a spot overlooking "
"Shalom House" has a floor space of over 3,500 square meters. It was reportedly purchased by a Jewish American businessman through a Jordanian real estate agency for about $700,000. Officials are looking at the documentation to ascertain its validity, and at present no evacuation of the Jews is foreseen.
Well over 40 small families can easily fit into the building.
The house's top floor had been used by the IDF for a lookout point. Twelve IDF troops and local Jewish residents were ambushed and killed by Arab terrorists on the Worshippers' Route in November 2002.
Upon entering the building in the evening hours, the new residents began singing and dancing. One of the youths told a reporter that he and others had reached the building by running through an Arab village. The Hevron Jewish Community's spokesperson, Noam Arnon, said the entry into the house was not meant for provocation but for peaceful residence by Jews. "We already have a long waiting list of potential residents," he added.
"This is a house that has been under construction for several years. No one lives in it yet, so no one was evacuated from it," said Arnon. "Right now there are young people living there, but in the future, after we renovate it, families will live there, like in other areas of Jewish settlement in Hevron."
Hevron has long had a lengthy waiting list for families who wish to move into the Jewish neighborhood, and well over 40 small families can easily fit into the building.
The Yesha Council – the umbrella group for Jewish communities in
The Yesha Rabbis Council praised the new residents for "meriting to restore Hevron homes to Jewish hands and fulfilling in a practical manner the commandment of settling the Land."
MK Uri Ariel (NU/NRP) said, "Any act of strengthening the hold of Jewish roots in the City of
MK Chaim Oron (Meretz) said today that the issue is not whether or not the property was legally bought, but the separation of populations. He called upon the government "to throw them out of there fast."
An Arab claiming to be the house's owner denies the house was ever sold to Jews. "The house is all mine," claimed Baez Rajabi, "and I have all of the documents proving it." However, another Arab man, Mohammed Al-Baradei, is also quoted in some media outlets as saying the house is his: "I handed all of the documents over to police after making copies," said Baradei.
Sheikh Ibrahim Sarsur of the Islamic Movement, a member of
Over the past ten days, Arabs have attacked IDF forces and Jewish residents of Hevron several times. Among the attacks: A pipe bomb, a female terrorist caught with a knife who later confessed she had planned an attack, the infiltration and stealing of an animal from a petting zoo, rocks at girls, rocks at a nursery, and more.