Hebron settlers set out conditions to cease squatting

A group of settlers squatting in a disputed Hebron building submit to the High Court of Justice on Sunday conditions under which they would agree to evacuate the complex they have illegally inhabited for over four months.

Some 100 settlers have been living in the Machpela House adjacent to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the flashpoint West Bank city since July 25. After a High Court of Justice petition against the squatters was filed by a group of Palestinian residents of Hebron, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit issued a response on behalf of the state, giving the settlers a week to peacefully vacate the Machpela House before the IDF would be ordered to remove them by force.

However, the squatters submitted a series of petitions delaying the evacuation for the past three months since Mandelblit’s original order. In Sunday’s offer, the settlers take issue with an awning they claim was recently built by Palestinian residents who live on the bottom floor of the complex. The squatters condition their peaceful evacuation on the prior demolition of that awning. In addition, they demand that the High Court permit them to post two or three guards at the Machpela House “to supervise the structure.”

The Peace Now settlement watchdog calls the move “another dubious exercise.” The group’s statement argues that the “guards” being requested to be stationed at the house are settlers themselves and that the squatters have no intention of leaving willfully.

For their part, the settlers argue they have legally purchased the property and that the registration document the state says they were missing isn’t necessary for them to maintain occupancy in the apartment building.

Jacob Magid

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