An Israeli settler puts up an Israeli flag over a house in Hebron
An Israeli settler puts up an Israeli flag over a house, which is disputed between Palestinians and Israelis, in Hebron. (photo credit:REUTERS)


The Jewish settlers who surprised Israeli authorities by taking up residence in two homes near a holy site in the biblical West Bank town of Hebron apparently did so illegally, aides to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said late Thursday.

In a surprise move, 20 Jewish families took possession of two abandoned adjacent buildings in Hebron, saying they had purchased the stone structures from the Palestinian owners.

The buildings are located on the road that runs past the Cave of the Patriarchs in the direction of the Avraham Avinu apartment complex. They have been named Beit Rachel and Beit Leah.

Border Police and IDF soldiers were stationed outside the two buildings, but they allowed people to move in and out, Levinger said. He added that some 300 teens were inside the structures with their families.

In the afternoon, a riot broke out between settlers and Palestinians near the Cave of the Patriarchs. The IDF shot tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd.

Right-wing politicians, including Likud ministers, immediately hailed the acquisition. Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) called on Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to allow the families to stay in the buildings and not to cave in to Palestinian pressure to remove them.

“Expanding the settlement enterprise has been the right response to Palestinian terrorism throughout the history of Zionism,” he said.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said that such action “is more important now than ever. I welcome the determined and blessed efforts of the Hebron residents to redeem and build the land. It is the historic right of the Jewish people to do so,” he said.

The acquisition of the two buildings marks the third time in the last decade that Jews have purchased and attempted to move into Palestinian homes.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post