The Jerusalem District Court ordered the eviction of six settler families from a Palestinian house they invaded in Hebron by May 15, after ruling that the purchase documents presented by the settlers were in fact forged.
The house in question belongs to Zechariah Bakri, a Palestinian man, and is adjacent to a Jewish settlement in the Hebron neighborhood Tel Rumeida. It was deserted in 2001, when the IDF restricted the movement of Palestinians in the area.
The settlers took possession of the house in 2005, claiming that the construction company Tal Lebniya, owned by Moshe Zar, had lawfully purchased the property.
In 2009, Bakri petitioned the court for a declarative ruling that he is the rightful owner of the house. Tal Lebniya claimed that Bakri had given a man by the name of Nadji Albatash power of attorney to negotiate the sale of the house on his behalf, but failed to provide any documents indicating a sale took place.
Other documents the company presented to the court, which allegedly indicated that other family members had transferred ownership of the property and which were allegedly signed by the mayor of Hebron, were exposed as forgeries by a police expert.
In his court testimony, Zar said that he was not involved in the purchase, but merely let the real buyers use his company to complete the purchase.
The middle man the settlers claimed had conducted the purchase told the court that he had never met the settlers and has not been in Hebron, where he is a wanted man, since 1999. He did concede that he allowed his name to be used for NIS 5,000.
In his ruling, Jerusalem District Judge Ram Winograd wrote that “Tal Lebniya and Albatash’s account is unfounded. This conclusion is based on unanswered questions such as the complete lack of details regarding the specifics of the sale, the date of payment and property transfer and the identity of the real buyer, as well as the lack of any evidence pointing to the existence of a sale agreement and the defendants’ refusal to bring the relevant witnesses. On this basis, the defendants are ordered to leave the property by May 2012.”
Winograd also ordered the defendants to pay the plaintiff NIS 20,000 in trial expenses.
Earlier this month, Israeli security forces evacuated Israeli settlers from another disputed house in Hebron in a surprise operation, after the settlers had been living there for over two weeks. According to a senior defense official, the house had been occupied illegally by settlers, who failed to attain the proper permits from the IDF's Civil Administration.