Israeli army orders settlers out of Hebron house (AP) Associated Press) By AMY TEIBEL HEBRON, West Bank 04/02/12 3:23 pm ET)
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HEBRON, West Bank – The Israeli military on Monday ordered dozens of
Jewish settlers to evacuate a building they occupied last week in the
heart of Hebron, the West Bank´s most volatile Palestinian city.
The order could lead to a violent confrontation between soldiers and
one of the most militant settler communities. Settlers have violently
resisted such evacuations in the past, lashing out with attacks
elsewhere in the West Bank.
The settlers´ entry into the building before dawn on Thursday
threatened to create another flashpoint in the biblical city of
Hebron, the only place where Jews live in the heart of a West Bank
Hebron is the traditional burial site of Abraham, the shared
patriarch of both Jews and Muslims. It has been a center of Israeli-
Arab violence for decades. The burial site overlooks the three-story
building the settlers entered last week.
Hebron settler leaders said about 10 Jewish families entered the
building after it was purchased legally from a Palestinian landowner.
A spokesman for the roughly 70 settlers inside, Shlomo Levinger, said
they moved into the building in the dead of night because they had
received information that the Palestinian Authority had learned of
the purchase and planned to take it over.
Military spokesman Maj. Guy Inbar said the settlers were ordered to
leave by Tuesday afternoon or be forcibly removed, because the
building was occupied without the military´s authorization. He said
the military was still determining whether the purchase was
Israeli media reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked
to delay the eviction and allow the courts to settle the matter. A
spokesman for Netanyahu did not confirm or deny the reports.
Hebron settler leader David Wilder said settlers had not sought the
military´s authorization to move in to the building because they
didn´t think they would receive it.
The city´s roughly 850 settlers live in heavily fortified enclaves in
the midst of 180,000 Palestinians. In the occupied West Bank, the
Israeli military must approve property purchases.
Wilder said the expulsion order was political and insisted the
purchase was legitimate.
"There are people who don´t want to see Jews living in Hebron,"
Wilder said. "We are going to do everything we can to see this order
He would not say what steps settlers planned to take or whether they
would forcibly resist.
Settlers have labored to expand their foothold in Hebron for the past
four decades, ever since Israel captured the West Bank, along with
east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, in 1967. They say their activities
are part of a campaign to pressure Israel to hold on to all of the
West Bank, land they believe God gave the Jews.
The Jews in Hebron are just a small fraction of the half a million
settlers who have moved to the West Bank and east Jerusalem since
1967. Palestinians claim those territories, along with the Hamas-
ruled Gaza Strip, for a future state. The Palestinians, backed by the
international community, see all settlement there as illegitimate and
undermining their statehood aspirations.
The Palestinian Authority considers land sales to Israelis to be a
serious crime. In Hebron, Palestinian police said they detained two
Palestinian men in an attempt to verify whether the building had been
sold to a settler.
Also Monday, Israeli police said an ultra-Orthodox Jew was attacked
by an ax-wielding Arab near the Old City of Jerusalem.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the Jewish man was slightly
wounded in the head. The attacker fled, and police were searching for
The attack is the latest against Jews in Jerusalem in recent weeks
after a relatively quiet period. Last week, a Palestinian man was
charged with attempted murder in the stabbing of an Israeli soldier
on Jerusalem´s new light rail line. (© 2012 The Associated Press
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