A historic site in the Binyamin region north of Jerusalem may be destroyed if Israel's courts do not intervene, the Regavim organization has warned.
The ancient structure of Khan Lubin is located near the Israeli town of Maaleh Levona. Residents of the town and other nearby communities have made an effort to preserve the site over the years.
However, in recent months Palestinian Arabs have increasingly been coming to the site, and, Regavim warns, have been doing damage to the ancient structure.
A Palestinian Arab man from a nearby town now claims to be the owner of the site, and has begun construction work in the area using heavy machinery.
Regavim filed a suit to stop the work several months ago. Hearings will begin next month. In the meantime, Regavim said, the man who claims ownership has been altering the site, damaging its historic value.
The court stated that the Palestinian man’s claim to ownership of the land is being investigated. Regavim has argued that the historic site should be considered state land because it was used by the British during the British Mandate.
Israel took control of former British property when the British occupation ended in the 1940s. However, the Binyamin region, like the rest of Judea and Samaria, fell to Jordan in the War of Independence, and was under Jordanian control until 1967.
During the 19 years of Jordanian rule, Jordan’s rulers transferred official ownership of land parcels in Judea and Samaria to various residents of the area as a gesture of thanks for their loyalty. The official owners often did not make use of the land, leaving it barren, but in recent years, several of their descendants have come forward to claim ownership of land on which various Israeli communities were built.