Machpela House in Hevron
Machpela House in HevronEliran Baruch

An Arab family from Hevron has filed a petition with the Israeli Supreme Court in a bid to have some 120 Jewish residents of a building purchased from the family expelled, Haaretz reported Tuesday.

Jews took possession of the three-story building, known as the “Machpelah House” due to its proximity to the Cave of the Patriarchs (Ma'arat Hamachpelah), in 2012, after the building had been purchased from a member of the Abu Rajab clan.

After 15 Jewish families moved into the property, however, members of the Abu Rajab clan claimed that the residents had forged documents from the transaction, and that no sale had taken place.

When the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration opened an investigation into the claim, then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak expelled the Jewish residents, leaving the Machpelah House vacant.

Five years later, residents returned to the Machpelah House, claiming that the Civil Administration was dragging its feet on the issue, and still had not made a final decision regarding ownership of the building.

Within the Civil Administration, the fate of the building remains in limbo, with the administration’s Appeals Committee ruling two months ago that documents brought by the residents to prove ownership appeared to be valid, remanding the case back to the Initial Registrations Committee which had ruled against the Jewish residents in 2015.

Now, 10 members of the Abu Rajab clan have filed a petition with the Supreme Court, calling for the residents to be expelled.

Despite the recent Civil Administration Appeals Committee decision, which found that documentation of the purchase was valid, the petitioners argue that the acquisition was invalid and the property must be transferred back to the Abu Rajab family.

An attorney who spoke to Arutz Sheva on condition of anonymity, and who deals with land transactions in Judea and Samaria, said that this is a common occurrence, sometimes due to a deliberate scheme for taking in buyers fooled by similar Arab names on deeds and sometimes as a way for the family to prove its uninvolvement in the sale of land to Jews - punishable by death in the PA.