Dozens of Israeli Settlers Break Into, Reoccupy Hebron Building Evacuated in Past

Sources close to Netanyahu say the prime minister instructed the defense minister not to evacuate settlers from the building on Tuesday night

The house in Hebron, July 25, 2017.
Olivier Fitoussi

Several dozen Israeli settlers broke into the so-called Machpelah House in the center of Hebron in the West Bank. The structure has been the subject of an ownership dispute for several years.

Settlers claim that they purchased the building legally some six months ago from a Palestinian in the area. However, Palestinians claim they do not own it and said that if they did buy the structure it could only have been bought from one of a number of people who inherited it.

The ownership claims have yet to be resolved and are still being examined by the relevant authorities.

In 2012, settlers entered the building but were later evicted by the army at the order of the defense minister. According to military directives, which govern real estate deals in the West Bank, any purchase requires a permit from the army. In 2012, then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the structure evacuated.

The office of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has yet to clarify whether he intends to remove the settlers this time.

Sources close to Netanyahu say the prime minister instructed the defense minister not to evacuate the building on Tuesday night.

Since then the building has remained empty until its legal status is determined.