Pre-State Hevron Resident Joins Defense Against Peace Now

by Ezra HaLevi


The last Jew to leave Hevron following the Arab riots and massacre of 1929 has come forward to claim his property for the present Jewish community of Hevron.

Prompted by a lawsuit by the extremist left-wing group Peace Now seeking to have Jewish families evicted from homes in the city of the Patriarchs, 75-year-old Yosef Ezra came forward and asked the Supreme Court to join the case on behalf of the defendants. 

Peace Now’s suit seeks to have the court overturn a Civil Administration decision allowing Jewish families to remain in the former Hevron marketplace until further notice, forcing an immediate eviction.

Ezra’s parents were among the few Jews to remain in Hevron after the pogrom of 1929, and he plans to show evidence in court proving that he owns property in the Hevron marketplace and to ask the court to allow Jewish families to remain in the area. 

Unlike other large tracts of Jewish land in Hevron that were later overrun by Arab squatters, Ezra says his property was never appropriated by Jordanian authorities and therefore did not fall under the jurisdiction of Israeli Civil Administration authorities following Israel’s liberation of the city in the 1967 Six Day War. 

Ezra says the Arab Al-Awiwi family members that stole his family’s home when he was exiled at the age of 15 are the children of a man who worked for his father as a shepherd.

“This place belongs to our family,” he said, “and we wish for Jews to continue living there.” He went on to slam the behavior of the state prosecution, which he said purposely refrained from recognizing his rights, deciding instead to seek to prove the property entitlement of the Arab squatters.

“There is no doubt that if any other country in the world acted in this manner with regard to land that was taken from Jews solely because they were Jews – the State of Israel would rush to condemn it – justifiably – as anti-Semitic,” Ezra said.

Ezra says that he knows the state acted with determination to reclaim property that was looted from Jews during the Holocaust. “The standing of the Jews of Hevron should not be any less than that of the Jews of Europe,” he said. “In Hevron, they slaughtered and burned Jews alive on 'primus' stoves in the 1929 massacre.”
Ezra attributes the state’s failure to protect his rights to the fact that his family was affiliated with the Irgun, one of the pre-state underground groups headed by Menachem Begin and which was at odds with the Labor Zionist establishment.

Ezra says he does not believe the Supreme Court will allow Jews to be evicted from the property once more. “As long as they don’t return all the property of the Jews of Hevron, I am standing up to say that at least they should let the Hevron community settle Jews in those houses and not evict those already living there.”

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