IDF planning walls from Kiryat Arba to Patriarchs´ tomb - Palestinian homes to be razed; settlers want 1,000 flats (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Amos Harel, Arnon Regular and Nadav Shragai 12/02/02)
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The Israel Defense Forces will expropriate and demolish some 15
Palestinian-owned properties between Kiryat Arba and the Jewish
enclave in Hebron as it builds walls along a widened "Worshipers´
Way" used by Kiryat Arba settlers to reach the Tomb of the Patriarchs
and the Jewish section inside Hebron.
The work begins this week in the wake of the deaths of 12 Israelis -
9 soldiers and three Kiryat Arba security officers - in a Palestinian
ambush on the path used by settlers on the Sabbath and holidays.
The protective walls and road-widening has been in the works over the
past two weeks since the November 16 ambush, in contacts between the
Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinski of the Central Command and Judea Corps
commander Brig. Gen. Amos Ben-Avraham with settler leaders in Kiryat
Arba and Hebron.
The declared purpose of the walls and road-widening is to improve
protection for the settlers who use the road.
But the settlers regard the construction as the first stage in a
massive construction program they are planning with help from Housing
Minister Natan Sharansky and the Tourism Ministry.
This plan includes building a "promenade" from Kiryat Arba to the
Jewish enclave, surrounded by a 1,000-apartment housing bloc.
According to Kiryat Arba Mayor Zvi Katzover, "They massacred us and
now we´re being put into a narrow sleeve, a ghetto.
Kiryat Arba mayor rejects wall plan
"We do not agree to this kind of defensive protection [as proposed by
the army]. These measures are foreign to Dror Weinberg [the brigade
commander killed in the ambush], who preferred offense to defense,"
The army´s plan, expected to cost several million shekels, includes a
number of stages. Along the 300 meters of the eastern end of the
road, from the southwest gate of Kiryat Arba known as "the pishpash,"
the nook, to the Erez Alley, where one part of the ambush took place,
a 1.5-2-meter-high wall will be built on both sides of the road,
blocking the thoroughfare from the neighboring Palestinian houses.
IDF guard posts will also be put up on the road.
From the Erez Alley to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, another few
hundred meters, the road will be widened by about five meters on each
side, necessitating the demolition of at least 15 Palestinian
The army says most of the properties are abandoned.
But a Ha´aretz survey found that some are still occupied, while
others belong to people who left the homes to move elsewhere in
Hebron, after continued harassment from settlers passing by.
The Civil Administration has already notified some of the
Palestinians of the plans to expropriate their properties, but the
Palestinians say they have yet to receive official notices.
"It is difficult to fight a plan when the orders haven´t been given
to the families," Palestinian Governor Arif Al Jabari said. "But when
it happens, the Palestinians will use legal means to fight the plan.
If the plan is implemented, it will be a ´road map´ to war."
New settler outpost on Worshippers´ Way
So far, the IDF has not taken any action against the settler outpost
set up opposite the site of the ambush. When the settlers moved in,
the army indicated that they would be allowed to remain for the seven
days of the mourning period.
Since then, the defense establishment has not done anything to
prevent the outpost from growing, though no official decision has
been made to grant the site legal status.
Military sources say that as far as they can tell, "nothing will
happen on the issue until the elections are over."
Meanwhile, Col. Hagai Mordechai is slated to get the official
appointment today as commander of the Hebron Brigade, replacing
Mordechai was on a study-year in the United States when he was called
back to take up the position and will begin working in the Hebron
area later this week.
(© Copyright 2002 Ha´aretz 12/02/02)
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