Israeli court orders settlers out of Hebron house (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) 04/22/12)
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An Israeli court has ordered a group of Jewish settlers to leave a
house in the southern West Bank city of Hebron after ruling that
their claim to ownership was false, court documents showed.
The court ruling said they must leave the house by mid May, prompting
a furious response from the Hebron settler community.
In a hearing at Jerusalem District Court late last week, Judge Ram
Winograd ruled that the settlers´ argument that they had legally
purchased the property, "does not hold water."
They had also presented forged ownership documents and had failed to
provide any evidence of proving they had legally acquired the
property, which is located in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood of
Hebron, a copy of the ruling seen by AFP on Sunday showed.
Winograd said the defendants had failed to provide "minimal details
about the deal" including the price paid, the date of the transaction
and the identity of the actual buyer.
"The burden of proof regarding the facts of the purchase was on the
defendant. They did not manage to do that," he said, ruling that the
property was owned by the Palestinian plaintiffs.
He ordered the settlers to leave the property by May 15 and to pay
the Palestinian plaintiffs´ legal costs.
The ruling sparked a furious response from the Hebron settlers, who
accused the government of using "racist" legislation to hold up moves
to expand Jewish presence in the city.
"The Israeli government is using racist, anti-Semitic laws to prevent
Jews from building or buying homes in Hebron," Hebron settler
spokesman Noam Arnon told AFP.
"Every time a Palestinian sells a house to a Jew, he is forced to
lodge a complaint with the Israeli justice system in order not to be
condemned to death by the Palestinian Authority," he charged
referring to unconfirmed media reports that a Hebron man who
apparently sold property to settlers elsewhere in the city was facing
the death penalty.
"Why does Israel, which knows the real motivations of the
Palestinians, play this game with the Palestinian Authority? We
demand the cancellation of these laws," he railed. "The Jews of
Hebron have rights!"
Hagit Ofran, an expert with Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now,
said the Tel Rumeida property, known as the Bakri house, was taken
over by settlers in 2001 after Zakaria Bakri and his wife were driven
"The situation began about 10 years ago when the Bakris left their
home following repeated harassment by their settler neighbours, who
then moved into the property," she said.
"The Bakris took the settlers to Jerusalem Magistrates Court in 2006,
and the settlers presented an alleged lease and title deeds which
were not recognised by the court," she said.
The settlers were forced out of the house, but it was immediately
taken over by another three settler families who have been living
there to this day.
"This time, Bakri went back to the court to claim ownership of the
property and he proved that the settlers, who said they had bought
it, were wrong," Ofran said.
On April 4, Israeli forces evicted another group of settlers from
another property in the city following a dispute over ownership which
is still being examined.
Hebron is the largest city in the West Bank, and home to some 190,000
But a core of 800 hardcore settlers also live in the heart of the
city, protected by thousands of Israeli troops. (Copyright © 2012
Agence France Presse. 04/22/12)
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