by Hillel Fendel
(IsraelNN.com) The Hevron Jewish Community has released a sharp, detailed report accusing the Israeli Government of breach of trust, abuse, and hostility towards the Jewish owners of Arab-stolen property in the City of the Patriarchs.
Entitled “The State of Israel’s Management of the Stolen Jewish Property in Hevron,” the report was issued this month in honor of the 78th anniversary of the Hevron massacre. In August 1929, Arabs brutally murdered 67 of their Jewish neighbors in their homes and in the local yeshiva. The Jewish survivors were then removed from Hevron, leaving behind their homes and land to be stolen by the Arabs. Only after the 1967 Six Day War did Jews return permanently to reclaim their homes and property. They soon found, however, that doing so under Israeli rule was not to be as easy as they thought.
The report begins by terming itself a “grave indictment” against those in the government who, “for decades have been exploiting their standing and have tried to apply their full influence to prevent the return of the Jewish properties to their owners, and to prevent the correction of the historic injustice of the 1929 pogroms.”
The report aims to “detail how, for a generation, the State of Israel has been betraying its mission as the representative of the Jewish Nation in the City of its Forefathers, with disdain, disregard and even hostility vis-a-vis its historic mission of rehabilitating the ancient Hevron community that was destroyed by Arab rioters…”
In short, the report presents what it calls “a major failure of legal, historic and moral significance.”
What Happened When?
The report’s authors feel that a historic perspective is necessary, and Chapter One recounts the massacre of 1929, followed by the transfer of most of the property to Jordan’s “Trustee of Enemy Zionist Property” in 1948. With no one to stop them, the Jordanians proceeded to:
* bulldoze the Jewish quarter’s houses, stationing an outdoor market there;
* destroy and desecrate the Avraham Avinu synagogue, building atop it a sheep sty, garbage dump, and public restroom;
* and destroy and vandalize the ancient Jewish cemetery, using the gravestones for local construction.
Parts of the property were rented out by the Jordanian Trustee to local Arabs, while other parts were ignored by the Trustee, and were simply taken over by private or public elements without being registered. “There is actually no proper and full registration anywhere of the stolen Jewish property in Hevron, because of faulty management by both the Jordanian conquerors and the Israel Trustee,” the report states.
Israel Takes Over From Jordan
The Israeli Trustee received control of the property in 1967 following the liberation of the Biblical homeland areas of Jerusalem, Judea (including Hevron), Samaria, and more. “It now had a historic Jewish-moral opportunity to correct the injustice and restore Jewish life to Hevron – but it did so only partially, despite repeated requests by both the original owners and the Jewish Community of Hevron that had received power of attorney to settle most of the properties.”
The function of the Trustee is to act in the best interests of those he is representing, the report states, and to ensure that the property does not remain desolate. “Yet Israel constantly and systematically did the opposite… For instance, regarding Hevron property that had been consecrated to a Jewish religious trust, the Supreme Court ruled that Israel could manage it as though it owned it. At the same time, regarding the Moslem Waqf properties in Judea and Samaria, the State does not intervene at all – even when the Waqf works in tandem with terror organizations.”
The report says that by allowing many of the properties to remain vacant and desolate, it is abrogating its basic obligations as a Trustee: “The Trustee/State absurdly overlooks the Arab renters’ obligations, while at the same time making extra sure their rights are not harmed… thus ignoring its obligations towards both the property (by leaving it vacant and desolate) and the owners (by not letting them move in).”
Tel Romeida, For Example
Two Jewish-owned plots of land (Bloc 34416, plots 52 and 53) at the heights of the Tel Romeida neighborhood stand adjacent to an IDF base and Jewish homes in the neighborhood – yet the government bans Jews from setting foot there. The land had been rented to an Arab, but the contract was stopped by the Civil Administration in 2000.
The Jewish Community of Hevron, granted power of attorney by the owners, has asked several times to be allowed to rent the land. In 2003, the IDF Central Region Commander agreed – but to this day nothing has been done to allow the Jews to move in, and it remains desolate. At the same time, the State/Trustee also does very little to stop Arab infiltration and illegal usage of the area – whereas Jews who have tried to enter the plots have been arrested and tried.
This is a perfect example, the report states, of the government’s hostile attitude towards the Jews of Hevron: “These plots have all the necessary conditions – land owned by Jews who have given official power of attorney to the Jewish Community, no Arab ‘third party,’ security permits, and the submission of proper requests throughout the years – and yet despite all, the property remains desolate, in clear violation of the owners’ will.”
Moving into the Market
The area now known as the Marketplace – the part of the Avraham Avinu neighborhood that the Jordanians turned into an outdoor market – is undisputedly Jewish-owned. After the IDF closed down the Jordanian market because of the security dangers it presented, and after it stood desolate for seven years, and immediately after the murder of the infant Shalhevet Pass by an Arab sniper terrorist, several Jewish families moved into the storefronts and turned them into their homes.
This led to a drawn-out legal battle in which the State demanded to expel the Jews. The State’s main claim was that families who moved in illegally should not be rewarded. The report notes the absurdity: “In the [State's] eyes, the ‘sinners’ who must not be rewarded are the Jews who acted in accordance with the owners’ wishes and by their request – and not the Arabs who murdered and threw out the Jews in 1929!”
Ultimately, at the end of 2005, an agreement was worked out according to which the Jewish occupants would leave, to be replaced shortly afterwards by other Jewish families who would rent the buildings. The Jews fulfilled their end of the bargain – but Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said the State need not fulfill its side, because of “legal and political considerations.”
After having been thus betrayed, two families moved back in to adjacent buildings – and were brutally and violently removed by army and police forces earlier this month. This expulsion, the report states, is a “mocking symbol of the hostility and disdain that the State of Israel has for the stolen Jewish property,” from several aspects:
* The eviction was not necessary, as the Supreme Court had ruled it permissible, not obligatory;
* it was meant only to impart a lesson that ‘sinners should not be rewarded’ – when in fact it was clear to all that their requests to move in had been ignored for years, leaving Jewish-owned property vacant and desolate;
* it was done against two families that had left peaceably on their own in the past, based on a government promise that was not fulfilled;
* it was tremendously violent and destructive. The properties were turned into ruins – in opposition to the Trustee’s obligation to preserve the property, and as an indication that the government meant to ensure that no Jews ever live there. It was the first time since 1929 that a synagogue had been destroyed in Hevron – and the destroyers were Israeli soldiers and policemen.
The report also notes the State’s extra-harsh approach towards Jews who wish to actualize their rights to the Jewish property – especially in comparison with the forgiving approach towards Arabs who infiltrate into these areas. For instance, a Jewish teenager was caught sleeping in one of the refurbished apartments in the market area. The police arrested him and demanded that he be distanced from the area for 60 days, claiming, “The State affirms the existence of a policy, approved by the Justice Ministry, calling for extra precautions to ensure that the Hevron market area remains empty.”
The judge asked the State representative about the closure order placed upon the apartments for “security reasons”: “Why do these security reasons necessitate only the closing of the apartments, yet allow people to walk by there? Is it more dangerous for people to enter the apartments than to merely walk by?”
The State’s representative answered, “This is the judgment of the Central Commander…” However, he did not add that the order was issued by the Central Commander at the behest of the Deputy Attorney General, Shai Nitzan, for the purpose of preventing Jewish entry into the storefronts.
Conclusion: End the Israeli Trusteeship!
Israel’s hostile approach cannot be due to its opposition to Jewish presence in Hevron, the report states: “The government of Israel has recognized, ever since a Cabinet decision in 1980, the legitimacy of Jewish habitation in Hevron – and even anchored this right in an international agreement, the Hevron Accord of 1997.”%ad%
“However,” the report continues, “as the Trustee of the property, Israel relates to the Jewish owners as an enemy. This is an absurd and intolerable situation for anyone who sees Israel as the country of the Jewish Nation.”
The writers of the report therefore call upon the State of Israel to end its trusteeship immediately, “especially given the fact that in 1995, a peace treaty was signed with Jordan – ending the state of war between the two countries, ending Israel’s status as an ‘enemy’ vis-a-vis Jordan, and ending the need for Israel to fill the shoes of Jordan’s Trustee of Enemy Zionist Property…”
“Alternatively,” the report concludes, “Israel’s policy makers must instruct all the government echelons to immediately stop the systematic harassment and discrimination of the owners of the stolen Jewish property… The State must first repair the damage it did in the market property, and then begin corrective reverse discrimination, leading to the restoration of dynamic Jewish life in Hevron as it was before the pogrom of 1929.”
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