Appeals Court Upholds Eviction of Settlers From Hebron Home

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The Bakri home in Hebron.
The Bakri home in Hebron, which Israeli courts have found was sold in 2005 using forged documents.Credit: Alex Levac

The Jerusalem District Court on Monday upheld the eviction of Jewish settlers from a Palestinian home in the Tel Rumeida section of Hebron in the West Bank.

In 2005, Tal Construction & Investments purchased the house in question for $300,000 from Hani Naji al-Batash, who claimed that he had bought the rights to the property from the family that owned it, the Bakris.

The same year, the company turned the building over to Jewish families so that they could move in.

Shortly afterwards, police began investigating and determined that the documents used in the transaction had been forged and that Batash never owned the property.

In 2007 the Hebron municipality petitioned the High Court of Justice, demanding that the property be evacuated. The head of Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank told the settlers to evacuate. The company appealed the decision in a military tribunal, which suspended the order.

Numerous legal proceedings followed, and in April the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ordered the settlers to leave the property.

A general view of Hebron from the Tel Rumeida section. Credit: Meged Gozani

The court rejected the company’s argument that since it had occupied the property for years and had invested  more than the purchase price in the home, it had in effect acquired the rights to the property. The court ordered the property restored to the Bakri family and ordered the company to pay the family 579,600 shekels ($166,000) in usage fees.

The company appealed the ruling to the district court, which on Monday upheld the lower court’s ruling.

The magistrate's court ruled in April that the company had not acted  in good faith when it renovated the building, because a complaint challenging the sale had been filed in 2005 and eviction proceedings had also been instituted. The district court reduced the usage fee the company was ordered to pay by 80,000 shekels to account for the improvements made to the structure, but ordered the company to pay the Bakri family 15,000 shekels in expenses.

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