A descendant of the original Jewish owner of a Hebron market came out against Israeli settlers who want to reclaim the property.
Haim Hanegbi is the grandson of Haim Bejayo, a Hebron Jew who, a century ago, owned the produce market near the entrance to today’s Avraham Avinu neighborhood in the West Bank city. Bejayo fled Hebron after an Arab pogram in 1929, abandoning the market to generations of Palestinians.
Israeli settlers have recently squatted in some of the market stalls, a move Palestinian decried as a veiled bid to expand the Jewish enclave in Hebron. The settlers say they are reclaiming stolen Jewish property, but Hanegbi, 72, rejected this argument.
“I have more rights than than the settlers and the army” to the market, he told The Jerusalem Post in an interview published Sunday.
A self-described anti-Zionist, Hanegbi accused the Hebron settlers of being part of an orchestrated campaign to drive Palestinians out of West Bank land. “We have to throw them out of Hebron down to the last one,” he said of the settlers. “I do not know how to sit quietly when people are driven out of their homes.”
Hanegbi had previously acceded to an arrangement whereby Israel leased the market to Palestinian vendors. But with the Palestinians banished during the recent years of fighting, he said he had hired a lawyer to argue that he should have ownership rights to the property. Should he win, Hanegbi would in theory be able to choose who does and does not use the market.