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Israeli settlers launch march to Abu Rajab family home in Hebron's Old City

Aug. 9, 2017 8:14 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 10, 2017 11:50 A.M.)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Hundreds of Israeli settlers originating from France launched a march on Wednesday afternoon toward the Abu Rajab home in Hebron’s Old City, which was forcibly taken over by settlers some two weeks ago, to reportedly show solidarity with the settlers.

The march was set off from an illegal settlement post on al-Shuhada Street and the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in the Old City, and stormed to the Abu Rajab family home, as the settlers waved Israeli flags.

Locals told Ma’an that the march was a way for the Israeli settlers to “confirm their control” over the building, despite even the Israeli Civil Administration deciding that the settlers' alleged purchase of the property was in fact invalid.

Residents of the Abu Rajab house have been embroiled in a legal battle with Israeli settlers for years, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his intention to encourage the establishment of a new illegal Israeli settlement there to be named Beit Hamachpela.

However, Israeli authorities have not granted permission to establish the settlement on the grounds that the settlers have failed to prove their alleged purchase of the Palestinian house, as the Palestinians have accused the settlers of forging the documents.
Meanwhile, Hebrew media reported that the march was organized by a right-wing organization called “Israel forever,” which focuses on showing French solidarity with the Israeli settlers residing illegally in Hebron.

The march in Hebron’s Old City came just a day following reports that the family had filed a petition with the Israeli Supreme Court to evacuate the settlers from their home. According to Israeli daily Haaretz, the petition is aimed at urging Israeli authorities to force the settlers out, which the family was successfully able to do when settlers also took over their home in 2012 after alleging that they had purchased the property.

While the Israeli army has declared the building a “closed military zone,” an order which should bar any individuals from entering the area, Israeli settlers have continued to enter and exit the building freely.

According to Haaretz, Israeli authorities have been negotiating a “possible voluntary eviction with the settlers,” while Israeli Supreme Court Justice Neal Hendel has ordered that the Israeli state respond to the family’s petition by August 16.

Located in the center of Hebron -- one of the largest cities in the occupied West Bank -- the Old City was divided into Palestinian and Israeli-controlled areas, known as H1 and H2, following the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre.

Some 6,500 Palestinians and 800 notoriously aggressive Israeli settlers live in the Old City of Hebron, according to a 2016 report by legal rights NGO BADIL.

Palestinian residents of the Old City face a large Israeli military presence on a daily basis, with at least 32 permanent and partial checkpoints set up at the entrances of many streets.

Additionally, Palestinians are not allowed to drive on al-Shuhada street, have had their homes and shops on the street welded shut, and in some areas of the Old City, are not permitted to walk on certain roads.

Meanwhile, Israeli settlers move freely on the street, drive cars, and carry machine guns.
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