ACRI to High Court: Stop village home demolitions
Petition due to be heard July 30 with fate of Palestinian village Khirbat Zanuta in balance.
A demolished Palestinian home [illustrative] Photo: Ammar Awad/Reuters
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel released a statement on Sunday
regarding its petition to stop demolitions of Palestinian residences in the
village of Khirbat Zanuta in Area C of the West Bank.
The petition, due
to be heard July 30 before the High Court of Justice, was initially filed by
ACRI in 2007 on behalf of the village residents. In response, the court then
issued a temporary restraining order against demolitions by the
Last year, another NGO called Regavim filed an amicus curiae brief
(“friend of the court” or legal brief filed by an outside party to inform a
court about possibly overlooked legal issues) in an attempt to move the case
forward and execute the demolitions. Shortly thereafter, the state responded to
ACRI’s petition, leading to next week’s hearing on the issue.
2012, the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria issued additional demolition
orders for new structures in the village.
Another controversy between
ACRI and the civil administration is that ACRI argues that the new structures
are already protected by the court’s prior order temporarily restraining
demolitions in the village.
In contrast, the administration argues that
only structures existing at the time of the court order in 2007 were protected
In order to stop or slow the demolition of any new structures, the
administration says that ACRI would need to file a new petition and go through
all of the court’s procedures from the start of a new case.
ACRI, Khirbat Zanuta is a small Palestinian village in the southern hills of
Hebron, whose 39 families earn their living shepherding and have lived in their
current location for several generations, long before the Six Day War in
ACRI contends that the civil administration has put the villagers
in a catch-22 by on one hand, rejecting any applications for permits for a
master plan to legalize building residences there, and on the other hand,
issuing demolition orders because any constructed residences are by definition
The administration claims that there is no justification for a
master plan that would incorporate Zanuta, citing among other things the
village’s small size, the existence of archeological ruins on the premises and
the relatively long distance between the village and the town of
In general, Israeli policy toward Area C of the West Bank is
strongest in its opposition to Palestinian building of new structures, since
Area C has not been handed over to Palestinian Authority security or political
control like Areas A and B – and also because the parts of the West Bank that
Israel will likely to seek to hold onto in a final borders agreement are part of
According to Regavim, since early 2008 the High Court has issued
162 interim orders against demolition of illegally constructed Palestinian
buildings in the West Bank. It notes that once the court issues an interim order
against demolition, in practice the state often indefinitely defers challenging
the temporary orders and pushing through the demolitions.
the State Attorney’s Office of permitting systematic delay, in contradiction of
what the NGO characterizes as enforcing “the rule of law and public
Regavim has gone as far as to imply, without presenting more
than general evidence, that the state purposely creates delays in order to
ultimately prevent the demolition orders from begin carried out.
noting what it refers to as the state’s “phenomenon” of delay, Regavim filed a
series of legal briefs covering 162 cases that it defined as delayed demolition
cases which need to move forward.
In the particular case of Zanuta,
Regavim complains that new construction is damaging antiquities in the area.