‘Al-Rajabi Building’ Project
CPT is involved in a campaign to prevent settlers from re-occupying Al Rajabi Building in Hebron. Al Rajabi Building was occupied by settlers in 2007. The settlers were evicted in 2008 when the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that some of the documents of sale had been forged. When the settlers were evicted the level of settler violence increased in Hebron and throughout the West Bank.
If a settlement was to be re-established in Al Rajabi Building it would create territorial continuity between the Kiryat Arba and the Settlements in the Old City. Palestinians have been forbidden to drive on the road outside Al Rajabi Building since 2000, however when the settlers were occupying the building greater restrictions of movement were placed upon the Palestinians. History shows us that often the Israeli Defence Forces use the excuse of security to carry out house searches and increase dententions in areas where there are settlements.
On March 11, 2014, the Israeli Supreme Court published it’s decision to hand the building over to the settlers. The Hebron Rehabilitation Committee has issued this call for urgent action from the International community in response to this decision:
The Hebron Rehabilitation Committee Calls for an Urgent Action Following the Decision of the Israeli Supreme Court to Hand Over Al-Rajabi Building in Hebron Old City to the Settlers
Hebron, 11 March 2013
The Hebron Rehabilitation Committee deplores the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court to hand over Al-Rajabi building in Hebron Old City to the Israeli settlers and calls for an urgent action vis-à-vis the violation of Palestinian property rights and the immediate humanitarian impacts of such a decision.
The ownership of Al-Rajabi building has been disputed since 19 September 2007, when a group of settlers stormed the building in the middle of the night claiming its ownership. On 16 November 2008, an Israeli court evicted the settlers from the building and placed it under the control of the Israeli army until the ownership is settled. The Court based its decision on the evidence substantiated by the Criminal Investigation Laboratory of the Israeli Police and by the Israeli prosecution proving that the purchase documents submitted by the settlers were forged.
The fabricated nature of the sale was further confirmed by a decision of the Jerusalem District Court from 13 September 2012 that stated that the purchase documents were forged by the intermediary arranging the selling of the building when the family refused to sell the building after they had learned that Jewish settlers were the buyers. Although the court did not return the ownership of the building to its Palestinian owners, it related the case to further litigation at the Supreme Court.
On 11 March 2014, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the Israeli settlers should pay the Palestinian owner of the building the amount specified in the forged (!) sale documents upon which the settlers will become the lawful owners of Al-Rajabi building. The Hebron Rehabilitation Committee deplores the decision of the Court since it violates the rights of the Palestinian owners of the building and disregards the humanitarian impacts of such a decision.
The court forces the Palestinian owner of Al-Rajabi building to sell the building to the Israeli settlers against his will unwittingly admitting to the fact that until now, the Jewish settlers were not owners of the building. As such, this decision shows the biases of the Israeli judicial system towards the Palestinians and their rights and its complacency in facilitating further colonization of Hebron by radical Israeli settlers regardless of the international humanitarian law.
The Court’s decision ignores the immediate consequences of allowing the settlers to reoccupy the Rajabi building and the humanitarian impacts on the Palestinian community. History is a witness to the violations that took place over a period of 19 months when the settlers were occupying the building in 2007 and 2008 during which time settlers used to burn houses, damage property and attack residents. If history is allowed to repeat, there will be an increase in the number of settler attacks and the occupation forces will use this new settlement as a pretext to increase the number of house searches and detentions in the area. The reoccupation of the building by settlers will disrupt the daily lives of Palestinian residents – women, men, children and the elderly alike.
HRC calls upon the international community and humanitarian organizations to use all means available to prevent the creation of a new settlement in the Old City of Hebron, which will put the lives and property of Palestinian citizens in jeopardy, and to continue coordinating with HRC in the different activities that aim to prevent the reoccupation of Al Rajabi building by the settlers.