The state of Israel has filed a damage suit against the Jewish community of Hebron for the sum of over 300,000 NIS (approximately $80,000) to cover the costs of explusion of Jewish families from Beit HaShalom a year and a half ago. (See also ynetnews article: http://goo.gl/P2cD)
Beit HaShalom was purchased a numnber of years ago by a family from New York for over one million dollars. (A video of the seller counting the money can be viewed on youtube: http://goo.gl/j0EU). Jewish families moved into the building and resided there for almost two years prior to being forcibly expelled by police and riot squad officers. The expulsion orders were issued by Defense Minister Ehud Barak. At the time of the expulsion members of Hebron’s leadership were involved in serious talks with high-ranking members of the defense ministry in an attempt to bring a peaceful end to the crisis. However, despite these negotiations, Barak decided to violently expel the building’s Jewish residents.
It should also be noted, despite media report to the contrary, that the Israeli Supreme Court did not order that the building be vacated. Rather, they upheld the defense ministry’s right to vacate the building, should they choose to. However the decision to expel the Jewish residents was taken by the Defense Minister, not by the Supreme Court.
Hebron’s reaction to this suit:
This claim constitutes a gross violation of the principle of equality before the law, which is one of the basic principles in a democratic country. As long as similar lawsuits are not filed against criminals such as thieves, robbers, traffic criminals etc., and as long as the state does not require all citizens to pay the cost of enforcing the law against them, it cannot take such a drastic step towards those who are fulfilling the right to protest, which is the is the very soul of democracy.Certainly such measures cannot be used against right-wing demonstrators only.
This suit is contrary to the decision of the Knesset Constitutional Law and Justice Committee, which made a unanimous decision (February 2004) that “with regard to payments for operations involving eviction, the government will utilize the same principles by which it operates in response to protest actions of every citizen or group of citizens protesting government policy. “
Moreover, the Court did not order the government to vacate Beit HaShalom, rather permitted it to do so. Over several weeks, the Defense Ministry carried out an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the residents together to explore various options following the ruling. Barak’s settlement advisor Eitan Broshi, and a representative from the attorney general’s office, Attorney Ben-Ari, participated in these discussions. The expulsion was implemented during the negotiations, by means of deception, when, concurrent to the actual expulsion, working papers were exchanged between the parties dealing with compromise proposals.
In light of these circumstances, the state can only sue itself for the costs of this unnecessary expulsion!
Beware: It should be noted that the state’s position is not limited only to Hebron. The government declares: “The State Attorney’s Office intends to submit such claims wherever necessary. These claims, as well as others, promoted by the prosecution, are part of its strategy, whereby the state intends to use civilian tools for preservation of the rule of law and public expenditures.”
In conclusion, this suit can only be defined as unfair, ugly, political, discriminatory and lopsided, which, in other words, perfectly describes the state’s conduct concerning Beit HaShalom all along.