Jews forced out of the Machpelah House in Hevron last week spent Passover in tents just meters away. In the meantime, the building sits empty.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, with support from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, insisted on going ahead with last week’s eviction ahead of Passover, arguing that Jewish presence in the building was an operational threat that must be rectified immediately. The IDF, he said, could verify that Jews had a legal right to the home after forcing them to leave it.
The eviction caused discord in the government, with senior figures including Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon openly criticizing the decision.
Shlomo Levinger is one of the many Machpelah House residents who has been living in a tent in the street along with his young children since the expulsion. “We had pain in our hearts during the holiday,” he told Arutz Sheva. “But also great joy, and faith that we will return to the building next door.”
Twelve days have passed since Hevron’s Jewish community gave the IDF Civil Administration documents relating to the sale of the Machpelah House. “They still haven’t told us what the problem is,” Levinger related. “Apparently there is no problem.”
Civil Administration officials speaking off the record have told Jewish leaders in Hevron that the sale was legal, he said.
Passover has brought a measure of comfort as Jews visit the city and reach out to help. “Since this morning we’ve already had hundreds of people… they sympathize with us and want to assist us,” he said. There are donation boxes around the city raising funds for the purchase of more buildings for the community, Levinger noted, adding that the purchase of the Machpelah House was made possible by many contributions pooled together.
He encouraged visitors to continue to come to the Jewish quarter of the ancient city.