Three Jewish families returned on Sunday to their home, a disputed building in Hevron from which they had been evicted more than five years ago.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon gave the families permission to return home before Pesach, after the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the four story building in the heart of Hevron was, in fact, legally purchased and owned by Jews.
Their return was accompanied by a festive crowd celebrating the families’ return from exile, a sentiment not uncommon for this time of year.
The building, which is strategically located between Hevron’s Old City and Kiryat Arba, the large Jewish community in the area, can house around 20 families.
The ownership Beit HaShalom building has been disputed since 2008. The Jewish residents living in the building in 2007 and prior to that, claimed that a deal was signed with the original Palestinian Arab owners of the building, which effectively made the land Jewish property. In 2008, however, the Israeli High Court disputed the claim because of questionable documentation, and ordered the residents out of the building.
The December 2008 eviction of the Jews from Beit HaShalom brought on a new wave of violent clashes between Jewish residents in the neighborhood and the Israeli soldiers stationed in Hevron, as the residents saw the action as further exacerbating the tense political situation in the city.
In response to the families’ return home, the Rabbi Dov Lior, the chief rabbi of Hevron said, “real peace will be when the nations of the world recognize the exclusive right of the Jewish people to this land,” Haaretz reported.
While the residents on Hevron, for the most part, celebrated this return, this modern day freedom, others were less thrilled.
Peace Now said in a statement that "the entry of the settlers was reason enough to halt the negotiations. Ya'alon gave in to the right and is now mobilizing the army to defend another building in the heart of Hevron."