The High Court of Justice on Thursday ordered the IDF to defend its decision to route the security barrier through the West Bank’s Nahal Refaim Valley and issued an injunction against further work on the barrier.

It asked the state to explain why it had not nullified or changed the barrier’s route, and to explain why the barrier could not be reconfigured.

It gave the IDF, through the state, until July 2 to respond.

“This is a precedent case...the injunction granted by the High Court forces the military to reconsider their presumption that security concerns tramp all other issues,” said Gidon Bromberg, Israeli director of Friends of the Earth Middle East.

FoEME, along with the Nature and Parks Authority as well as the Palestinian village of Battir, which is located in the valley, had petitioned the court against the barrier.

FoEME had told the court that placing the barrier in the valley would destroy an ancient agricultural system that includes terraces, pools and small canals.

The IDF, in turn, had suggested that it could place a fence in the valley, rather than a concrete wall.

But FoEME had argued that the fence would similarly harm the site’s integrity and its ancient farming system.

The Palestinian Authority has placed the site on its tentative list of places that it wants to register on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

The IDF has said that the barrier is needed to complete the security ring around Jerusalem to prevent suicide bombing attacks. It is also concerned about the safety of a nineteenth-century rail line that goes through the valley and is still operational.

In its court response, FoEME said it believed that the line would be stopped within the next five years, because of the nation’s new rail system.

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