JERUSALEM (Aug. 22)
Defense Minister Shimon Peres indicated today that the government will not allow residents of the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba and the Gush Emunim movement to take over the former Hadassah Hospital in Hebron for use as a synagogue. He said the building, which has been the target of several attempts by militant Jews to hold prayers meetings there, was given to UNRWA and Israel was committed to leaving it in UN hands.
Peres made his statement following the weekly Cabinet meeting. The Cabinet issued a communique that no Jewish presence will be increased in Hebron without government approval. A group of MKs are scheduled to see Peres tomorrow to urge the approval for the use of three buildings in Hebron, including the former Hadassah Hospital which were owned by Jews until the 1929 Arab riot in which 63 Jews were killed in that city.
But Peres, who has been considered a sympathizer of Gush Emunim’s settlement attempts, said today that with the prayer facilities in the Tomb of Patriarchs (Machpela) and the nearby Kiryat Arba there was no need to turn the former Hadassah Hospital into a synagogue, a use it also had in the past.
EIGHT ACTIVISTS DETAINED
Earlier in the day, eight Gush Emunim activists were detained in another prayer attempt at the old hospital building. One of those arrested was Hannan Porat, a Gush Emunim leader, who guided many of its illegal settlement attempts.
The eight arrested were among 100 men and women, most of them from Kiryat Arba, who gathered on top of the building at 1:30 a.m. to engage in a Torah study lesson. Police broke up the meeting at 4 a.m. This was the third attempt to hold a prayer meeting in the building. Last week a group of yeshiva students from Kiryat Arba left peacefully when police arrived, but another group of 15 were arrested the next day and are still being held.