Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Last Jew of Hebron 'never waived property rights'

The case of Yosef Ezra, whose Jewish family was the last to leave Hebron in 1947, has ramifications for all Jews whose property was taken over by Arabs. Nadav Shragai of Haaretz reports.

By the time Yosef Ezra was four years old, his family was the only Jewish family still in Hebron following the 1929 massacre. They left only in 1947, a day after the UN voted to establish the state of Israel. He still has clear memories of his 15 years in the city.

Today, Ezra is 75 and lives in Jerusalem. But he still has registration documents for the Hebron lands and houses owned by both his family and Magen Avot, an umbrella organization of Sephardi yeshivas in the city. So this morning, he intends to publicly come to the aid of today's Jewish residents of Hebron, at a High Court of Justice hearing on whether those residents should be allowed to remain in the so-called "Triangle Market."

A Civil Administration appeals committee decided a few months ago that the families could continue living in the market, until a final decision was made on the legality of their presence. It thereby rejected the position of the custodian of government property in the West Bank, who had wanted them evicted immediately. Peace Now then petitioned the court against the committee's decision, and the State Prosecutor's Office announced that it sided with Peace Now.

When Ezra heard that, he decided to go to court today and request permission to speak. The settlers have asked that he be added to the petition as a respondent.

"I never waived my rights, and those of my family, in these properties," he said. "But until we get this property back, I and descendants of other families expelled from Hebron have allowed the Hebron settlers to maintain them and use them."

Ezra claims that unlike other Jewish property in Hebron, his family's property was never taken over by the Jordanian custodian of absentee property.

"I personally traveled to Jordan and checked whether there was an expropriation order for those stores in the Triangle Market," he said. "There is no such thing. Thus the Israeli custodian is not the successor of the Jordanian custodian. This belongs to my family, and we want Jews to continue to live there; we want the Jewish community of Hebron to continue to exist."

Read article in full

Arutz sheva article

Report by Hebron Jewish community

Hebron's Peace house, bought by a US Jew of Syrian origin

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