Israeli security forces on Friday removed a group of settlers from two houses in Hebron, a day after they had moved into the buildings they claim to have purchased.
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A few dozen of the Hebron settlement's residents broke into the homes between the Cave of the Patriarchs and the neighborhood of Avraham Avinu on Thursday and announced that they had bought the buildings, which would in effect expand the settlement in the city. They called the homes "Beit Rachel" and "Beit Leah," after the biblical wives of Jacob.
The settlers' move came as a surprise to authorities who were not informed or coordinated with in advance. They were not granted a permit of transaction, required under military orders in the Occupied Territories for carrying out real-estate deals.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Friday that the "intruders" were evicted because they "trampled the law," having failed to take several legal measures required to move into the houses.
"The settlements are important to me and I take action [to support them], but I won't compromise on the law," he said.
Likud politicians slammed the eviction on Friday. Immigrant Absorption and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin called on Ya'alon to halt the eviction of settlers from homes "they legally purchased."
"Anyone who speaks in the name of law and order should first of all deal with members of the Palestinian Authority and extremist leftist activists who execute Palestinians who dare sell land or homes to Jews," he added.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein called on the relevant authorities to "quickly examine the legality of the purchase instead of igniting the spirits by evicting the residents."
"Especially at a time when our enemies are trying to hurt us, and not just physically but also [undermine] our right over the land, it is only right to send a message that we have come home," he said.
The Habayit Hayehudi party jointed the criticism.
"Amid a terror wave, the defense minister is taking determined, uncompromising and insensitive action to throw Jews out of their homes," the party said in a statement, adding that Ya'alon should "direct the same passion and determination to deal with the Arab terror and illegal construction in the terrorists' towns. "
Ya'alon, in response, called on Israeli lawmakers to "restrain their remarks, support the rule of law and avoid encouraging [citizens] to take the law into their hands."
In 2012, settlers in Hebron surprised authorities by occupying a house facing the Cave of the Patriarchs, claiming they bought the property legally. Since the purported real estate deal was not examined by the authorities, the settlers were evicted from the premises until such an examination could take place. Eventually, the army committee in charge of these matters decided the settlers' property deed wasn't in order. The house now stands empty.
In a 2007 case, settlers entered a house between Hebron and Kiryat Arba with a similar claim without getting the proper permit. However, the Supreme Court granted their appeal, ruling that the property deed was valid, and they returned to the house.