Shalhevet Neighborhood in the old 'shuk'
Shalhevet Neighborhood in the old 'shuk'

The Jewish community in Hevron says it has been lied to and tricked one too many times and will neither negotiate nor leave the Jewish-owned Hevron marketplace willingly.

“We agreed to a negotiated deal a year and a half ago,” says spokesman David Wilder. “We kept our side, they reneged – this will not happen again.”

Wilder is referring to the old marketplace adjacent to Hevron’s Avraham Avinu neighborhood, where nine families and a yeshiva were located prior to an agreement reached with the IDF in 2005. “The community was given a firm promise, in the form of an agreement with the commander of forces in Judea and Samaria, General Yair Golan, that following our voluntary exit from the homes, families would soon be allowed to 'legally' return,” Wilder explained. “That was a year and a half ago. The agreement was voided by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, using the excuse that Golan was not authorized to make the agreement. This, despite the fact that the General was on and off the phone with his bosses in the Defense Ministry during the meeting with Hebron representatives in order to receive their OK to the compromise.”

Hevron officials say they are once again being promised that if they leave willingly a quiet return to the marketplace will be arranged in the future. A similar episode took place with the Beit Shapira house – which remains sealed and empty to this day. “We've been through that one too many times,” Wilder said. “The property is Jewish property. A military appeals court recommended that the buildings be leased to the Hebron Jewish community. This too was rejected. What more do they want?”

The answer to Wilder’s query seems to be in the buildup of troops and Yassam riot police around the region in recent days. The two families living in the neighborhood in question, the Bar Kochbas and Yahaloms, say they are not going anywhere, despite claims by security officials that they will be charged for their own eviction.

Activists say Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s plan is to close off the roads leading to Hevron Monday morning and then begin an extremely violent eviction that will placate Peace Now and others pressuring him from the left. The public is encouraged to converge upon Hevron ahead of the deadline. “Accommodations will be provided – just bring a sleeping bag and provisions, if you can,” a protest coordinator told Arutz-7.

Seven Faction Heads Against Expulsion

The chairmen of seven Knesset factions, many of them part of the government, wrote to Defense Minister Ehud Barak last month, saying, inter alia:

“We are marking 78 years since the 1929 riots, you are faced with a fateful decision concerning one of the sites which represents, more than anything else, the murder and the thievery of the Hebron Jewish community of those days: the site of the 'shuk' in Hebron, where presently several families are living…We are dealing with Jewish-owned land, which was stolen as a result of the terrible slaughter. It is incumbent on the government to act to return the stolen property as would be expected in relationship to stolen Jewish property anywhere in the world.

“We the undersigned, chairmen of various parties in the Knesset, turn to you with this request to refrain from expelling these Jewish families living in the 'shuk' and to study alternative ways to resolve Jewish quarters at this site, legally…

“The residents of Hebron prevented violence and conflict similar to the occurrences in ‘Amona’ when they voluntarily moved out of these homes, based upon promises that they would be allowed to return, honoring and respecting promises of representatives of the state, IDF officers. This type of approach is to be encouraged and rewarded, not discouraged…

“For all the above reasons, we request, that you order that the issue of Jewish residency in the shuk be studied seriously, and that in any case, you prevent, for the time being, any eviction of Jewish residents from the site.”

The ketter was signed by Yoel Hasson (Kadima), Meir Porush (UTJ), Uri Ariel (National Union-NRP), Gideon Saar (Likud), Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beitanu), Ya'akov Margi (Shas) and Moshe Sharoni (Pensioners).

Lieberman Key to Prevent Expulsion

Political activists believe that Yisrael Beiteinu’s Avigdor Lieberman can prevent the expulsion if presented with enough public pressure. Lieberman’s office number is 02-654-7100 and fax 02-654-7101. His spokeswoman Irena's cell phone number is 054-807-7410 (add 011 972 and drop the first zero from outside Israel).