An Israeli court has ordered Jewish settlers to vacate a home seized earlier from its Palestinian inhabitants in the West Bank city of Hebron (Al-Khalil), the Israeli media reported on Monday.
According to Israeli daily Haaretz, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ordered the settlers to vacate the Bakri family home in the Tel Rumeida district of Hebron’s Old City.
After being sold to an investment company – using forged documents – in the early 2000s, the home was taken over by Jewish settlers, the paper reported.
In its Monday ruling, the magistrate’s court reportedly rejected the settlers’ claim that, given their long occupation of the property and their expenditures to improve it, the property should remain in their possession.
The court also ordered the settlers to pay the Palestinian family 580,000 Israeli shekels (roughly $160,000) in damages, according to Haaretz.
Under the 1994 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, 20 per cent of Hebron – a historically Arab city – is reserved for Jewish settlers.
Israel maintains a strong military presence around Hebron’s Old City with the ostensible aim of protecting settlers, causing friction with Palestinian residents who are barred from using many of the city’s main roads.
International law views all Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank, including Hebron, as illegal.