17th March 2009 | Ma’an News Agency
Hebron – Ma’an – Three months after Israel’s army evacuated settlers from the Ar-Rajabi building that was confiscated two years earlier, soldiers have returned to reoccupy it.
Dubbed the Hebron-area House of Contention, the building is owned by a Palestinian family before it was taken over by Jewish settlers. Enforcing a court order, the Israeli military evacuated the settlers by force in early December.
But on Sunday, the home returned to the spotlight when Israel’s army announced it would turn the building into a military post rather than return it to its original Palestinian owners.
Hebron Mayor Khaled Al-U’seili, said the Ar-Rajabi building “is owned by the family and should be returned to it.”
“Having a military post in the area would make the situation worse,” he said, “adding that Israel’s military presence in the area should be lessened.”
Al-U’seili also noted that a recent agreement signed between the Palestinian Authority and Israel stipulated that Ash-Shuhada Street should be reopened for Palestinians and their vehicles in both directions.
“We previously had a decision from the Israeli High Court to open the street, yet a military decision was taken to close the street for the Palestinians,” he said.
“Israeli army commanders should consider opening the street in two directions, rather than what they are planning,” he said, adding “restoring normal life to the Old City will not happen but by lifting all kinds of closures on the area.”
He noted that there are currently 101 military checkpoints in the Hebron area alone.
Imad Hamdan the administrative and financial manager for the Hebron Rehabilitation Committe said his organization petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to prevent Israeli soldiers from using the Rajabi house.