Eviction orders approved for 2 settler-occupied Hebron stores
Decision leaves time for kin of pre-1948 owners to seek right to land, paving way for similar Palestinian claim.
The Judea and Samaria Appeals Committee of the Civil Administration, the Israel Defense Forces arm that governs civilian affairs in the West Bank, approved on Tuesday eviction orders for two Hebron stores occupied by settlers roughly two years ago.
The two stores are in the "triangle" market, not far from the city's Jewish Avraham Avinu neighborhood. Their Palestinian residents were evacuated from the triangle market and the nearby wholesale market after Baruch Goldstein's 1994 massacre of Muslim worshipers at the Cave of the Patriarchs and a stabbing in the area.
Some time later, after the Jewish settlers moved in, two of the merchants who had previously rented the stores asked Peace Now to approach the Civil Administration for an eviction order on their behalf.
Tuesday's decision will not go into effect for another two months, during which Yosef Ezra, a 75-year-old Jerusalem resident whose relatives owned the properties in question before 1948, can ask the state for rights to the land.
The decision to allow Ezra to seek recognition of the original owners' rights to the property was included after the settlers demonstrated their claim to it. In an aside, the judges determined that the claim of the original owners, Nissim and Ya'akov Ezra, to the property should be considered, despite the number of hands it has changed over the years.
Michael Sfard, the attorney for the former Arab renters of the stores, said that the judges' statement paves the way for Palestinians to declare their rights to properties taken from them inside Israel and the West Bank. He said he plans to use that argument when he represents Arabs claiming rights to land currently held by Jews.