Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday night asked the Defence Ministry to delay Tuesday’s 3 pm (local time) evacuation order for Beit Hamachpela, a Hebron apartment building recently inhabited by settlers. The prime minister asked to allow the 15 Jewish families that reside there the opportunity to legally defend the purchase of the house in court.
Defence Ministry sources, cited in the Jerusalem Post, said, however, that the 3 pm deadline still stands. According to the sources, the prime minister’s request was to allow the building’s inhabitants to present their arguments, and take all necessary legal steps to stay – which can be done within the evacuation order’s timeline.
Defence officials also cautioned against the assumption that a forced evacuation would occur immediately after the 3 pm deadline. “It is ultimately up to Defence Minister Ehud Barak when to carry out the evacuation,” one official said. “He will have to determine when the appropriate time will be.”
The official added that judging by previous evacuations of unauthorised settler homes in the West Bank, the IDF will most likely carry out the eviction at night or when the majority of the residents are not home and will be taken by surprise.
The three-story structure is located in front of a small park and is adjacent to the Cave of the Patriarchs. Families from Hebron and the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba moved into the apartment building during last Thursday’s pre-dawn hours. One of the residents said that Hebron Jews privately bought the structure from its Palestinian owner.
The buyers did not, however, seek the necessary purchase permit from the civil administration. Because of the sensitivity in the city, the Defence Ministry issues all new house permits, and no permit was issued in this case.