- Title: WEST BANK: Israeli troops clash with Hebron settlers facing eviction.
- Date: 3rd January 2006
- Summary: SCU ISRAELI SOLDIERS HOLDING EVICTION NOTICES; WIDE JEWISH CHILDREN SCUFFLING WITH SOLDIERS; WIDE SCUFFLES BETWEEN SOLDIERS AND SETTLERS (VARIOUS)
- Embargoed: 18th January 2006 12:00
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAEJQ36D1019NELIZPL1FDPQ7X8
- Story Text: Israeli troops clashed with Jewish settlers upon receiving eviction notices on Tuesday (January 3) in the heart of the West Bank city of Hebron -- the first major impending evacuation of settlers since the historic pullout from Gaza.
About 50 Jewish settlers living in the once bustling Arab market in Hebron's Old City received government orders to leave their homes by or face eviction.
Settlers began hurling eggs at troops in scenes reminiscent of the evacuation of Gaza last August.
The evacuation order came at the end of a momentous year in which the Israeli government evicted 8,500 Jewish settlers from Gaza - the first time Jews had been forced to leave land Palestinians want for a state.
About 10 Jewish families live in the heart of this divided city - in apartments converted from market stalls where Palestinian merchants used to sell fruits and vegetables.
But David Wilder, the spokesman for Hebron's Jewish community, said the some 100 residents of the market area, which include his daughter and son-in-law, are living on land purchased legitimately by Jews nearly 200 years ago.
"This is Jewish property. These are Jewish homes. We've lived here for many years and we are planning on continuing to live here for many years. And everybody who is trying to expel us is going to fail on their job because we are planning on staying here," he said.
A Jewish community existed in Hebron, close to the Tomb of the Patriarchs revered by Jews, for over a century until Arab attacks on the community in 1929 left more than 60 Jews dead with the survivors evicted by British troops then controlling the region.
Jews started returning to Hebron after the Israeli army seized the city from Jordanian control in 1967 - but the Arab merchants who had moved in to the market were given special status and allowed to continue trading.
But in 1994 Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Jewish settler, shot and killed 29 Palestinians as they prayed at the Ibrahimi Mosque - marking Hebron as one of the most volatile flashpoints in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israeli soldiers barred Palestinians from Jewish neighbourhoods in Hebron, fearful of bloody reprisal attacks, and the deep divisions still obvious in the town today began to take shape.
Hebron may be one of the most complicated places in the West Bank - the only place in the region, with the exception of East Jerusalem, where Jews and Arabs live together in such close proximity.
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