Jewish families living in Beit Ezra in the city of Hevron peacefully left the property on Tuesday. The families agreed to leave quietly while the Attorney General decides their future.
Noam Arnon, spokesman for Hevron’s Jewish community, reported that the building is now empty and closed. “Now we expect the government to keep its word,” he said.
The Attorney General will determine in the upcoming weeks whether the two families that were living in the property may return to live there, this time with government approval.
Arnon expressed frustration over the latest challenge to Jews taking up residency in a new building in Hevron. “The Jewish community of Hevron has been blocked in every attempt to develop, to build, or to buy homes,” he said. “This hostile policy continues even now.”
Hevron’s Jewish community “expects and demands that the new government… end the ongoing discrimination and moral outrage against the Jews living in Hevron,” he said.
Beit Ezra is the name given to home that was owned by the Jewish Ezra family prior to the establishment of the modern state of Israel. The family remained in Hevron even after the 1929 massacre of Jews in the city, but was forced to leave the city in 1947.
Hevron fell to Jordan during the War of Independence in 1948. When Israel returned to the city following the Six Day War in 1967, Israeli government officials took control of the Ezra home along with other historically Jewish properties. Officials agreed to rent the property to Arab store owners.
The store owners made use of the building until the Oslo War (Second Intifada), when the IDF forced shops adjacent to the Jewish community to close for security reasons following a wave of terrorist attacks.
Years after the building was evacuated, two Jewish families moved in with the approval of Yosef Ezra, the building’s official owner.
In 2008 a military appeals court issued a verdict highly favorable to the Jewish families living in the home which determined that Yosef Ezra’s interests should be considered, and that the Arab store owners have no right to the property. Local Arabs then filed suit to the Supreme Court with help from the far-left Peace Now group, and won the government’s agreement to expel Jews from the home.