EA Blog: Hebron locals fear new ‘House of Peace’ settlement

by Michele, Hebron Team

A few days ago we visited Bassam Jabari, a shoemaker who lives in Wadi al-Hussein, the area just behind Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. Wadi al-Hussein is a valley between two settlements, Kiryat Arba and Givat Ha’avot. As all settlements in the West Bank, Kiryat Arba and Givat Ha’avot are illegal according international law. Bassam’s shop is small.  His family is growing, they are now eight and live in a small apartment behind the shop.

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He has tried to extend his house by building an extra floor, but the Israeli authorities have stopped work several times because his house is located in the Israeli controlled Area C, despite the fact that Hebron city has granted him a construction permit. According to “The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories” (B’tselem), over the past three decades have Israel has employed a policy of planning, development and construction in the West Bank that significantly limited the building of Palestinian homes and buildings and instead favored the establishment and the expansion of Israeli settlements. Palestinians who request a construction permit from the Israeli authorities must undergo a time-consuming, complicated and expensive process that usually ends with refusal.

Since 28 May 2012 Bassam has been prevented from performing any further work in his house. “A few weeks ago, Israeli soldiers came to my shop and ordered me to stop work in the house. It was just a plumber who fixed a problem we had at home. The captain said, do not touch anything house, I’ll try to help you with this. Nothing has happened yet. ” According to Bassam, Israeli border police intervened just because the settlers who live in the area contacted them. “Every time they suspect I resumed work, they call on the Border Police.”

In Wadi al-Hussein, almost opposite to Bassam’s store, it is located al-Rajabi house (which the settlers call Beit HaShalom, Fredshus) that have caused much tension in the area since March 2007. The Israeli settlers claimed to have an agreement to buy the house signed in 2007.

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This claim was disputed by the Israeli Supreme Court which in November 2008 ordered the settlers to leave the building. As a consequence, the settlers reacted violently.  Al-Rajabi house contributes also to Bassam’s problems. He says, “The settlers once came to my shop and told me that only when they get al-Rajabi house I will be allowed to continue to build.” The legal battle over al-Rajabi house continues but Bassam’s situation has not improved. A week ago, he turned to Hebron city, the DCO 7  and even TIPH. 8. Now he is waiting and hoping that he will soon be able to resume the works.

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