Dozens of Jews took residency of two empty buildings in the ancient city of Hevron in Judea on Thursday afternoon, in an historical move in the city where Jews have long been limited by the government in expanding their community.
The structures are strategically located between the Avraham Avinu neighborhood, where the Jewish presence in the city was reestablished after the city was liberated from Jordanian occupation, and the Cave of Machpelah, where the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs other than Rachel are buried.
Video from Thursday shows Jews entering the site, and thanking IDF soldiers and police officers who stood on hand to keep them protected.
The two buildings, named Beit Rachel and Beit Leah, were fully purchased in cash by Jewish buyers from an Arab seller.
"The children return to their borders," said the new residents, quoting a famous scriptural line from Jeremiah (Yermiyahu) 31:16.
"We are meriting to redeem two additional buildings in Hevron, the city of the fathers, Beit Rachel and Beit Leah, and in doing so join a long line of redeemers of the land of Israel who paid in full buying houses and land, starting from our forefather Abraham (Avraham), through (Menachem) Ussishikin and (Arthur) Ruppin, Rabbi Yosef Rivlin and others."
"We came to the land of Israel in order to live in it in pride and security, and call on the government of Israel to straighten the back of the Jewish people in their land and allow Jews to buy homes and live in them in all places throughout our land, particularly in the city of Hevron," added the new residents.
They also requested that the security establishment defend the Arab seller of the buildings and his family, both from other Arabs and leftist "human rights" organizations. The call is particularly timely, as an investigative TV report recently revealed how leading left-wing activists hand over Palestinian Arabs who sell land to Jews to the Palestinian Authority (PA), which summarily tortures and executes them.
Immigrant Absorption and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) responded to the purchase Thursday, saying, "I congratulate the Hevron residents for their firm actions for the expansion of the Jewish presence in the city of the fathers."
"The homes the residents have entered were bought in full in accordance with the law. I call on the Defense Minister to help the residents as much as he can, and not to submit faced with the pressure of Palestinian rioters. The correct answer to murderous Palestinian terror throughout Zionist history is an expansion of settlement."
Jews have extreme limitations placed on them in Hevron, both in terms of movement, obtaining building permits and a variety of other rights, with no new residents allowed into the Jewish neighborhoods.