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      Hevron Jews Sue for Expulsion Damages

      Jewish residents of Hevron have filed for damages over the demolition of Jewish-owned apartments in a local marketplace.
      By Maayana Miskin
      First Publish: 8/6/2009, 10:02 PM

      (file)

      Hevron residents say the state violated its obligations as the custodian of Jewish properties in the marketplace. As custodian of the properties, which are rightfully owned by the descendants of the former Sephardi Jewish tenants of the buildings, the state had a responsibility to keep the properties in good condition, they argue.

      However, instead of protecting the properties while determining what to do with them, the state caused serious damage, the plaintiffs say. As evidence, they have pictures of soldiers destroying apartments in the marketplace with hammers and similar equipment shortly after two Jewish families were expelled from the residences.

      The Jewish families, and hundreds of supporters, were expelled from the marketplace in August 2007.

      Military officials had reassured the Jewish families living in the marketplace that if they were to agree to leave peacefully, they would be allowed to return and granted legal status. As there were no plans to allow Arab merchants to return to the historically Jewish properties, which they had used as shops during the Jordanian occupation of the city, military officials recommended that the state lease the properties to the Hevron Jewish community – as requested by the surviving original owners.

      However, after nine families left peacefully, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz voided the agreement they had made with the IDF and said they would not be allowed to return.

      Residents of Hevron are requesting 214,400 shekels to replace the property and infrastructure damaged in the expulsion. In addition, they are asking the government to reverse the previous government's decision and allow Jews to return to the marketplace, which is located in the Jewish Avraham Avinu neighborhood.

      Return Fitting for 80 Year Memorial
      The lawsuit has been filed two years after the marketplace expulsion, and 80 years after the Hevron massacre, in which Arab Muslim mobs slaughtered 67 Jewish residents of the city and wounded dozens more. Following the slayings, British authorities forcibly removed Jews from the city, and Jewish life was not restored to the area until after the Six Day War.

      Prior to the massacre, Jews had lived in Hevron for centuries, and the city was home to an internationally renowned yeshiva.

      Allowing Jews to return to historically Jewish property in the Avraham Avinu marketplace would be a fitting action to take in honor of the Jews slaughtered in the 1929 massacre, Hevron Jews say. The government has announced plans to commemorate the 1929 slayings with an official state ceremony.