Settlers pray near the ruins of the Hazon David Synagogue near Kirayt Arba .
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Settlers have vowed to rebuild the unauthorized Hazon David synagogue in the West Bank on the outskirts of Kiryat Arba, which the IDF destroyed in a pre-dawn raid on Tuesday.
Settlers first placed a large tent on the site for prayer service in 2001, in memory of two terror victims: David HaCohen, 28, of Beitar Illit and Yehezkel Mualem, 49, of Kiryat Arba.
The site was never legalized.
HaCohen was shot to death by Palestinians as he drove by the spot in July 2001 and Mualem was killed near the same place a day after the shooting, as he protested the attack on HaCohen.
Since then the IDF has destroyed what has come to be known as the Hazon David outpost dozens of times – possibly as many as 40. But it has not been torn down in years, and recently the tent was fortified with prefabricated panels.
The ownership of the small plot of land, off the road into the city of Hebron, is disputed, according to a Kiryat Arba Council spokesman. A Palestinian man who lays claim to the land filed a petition to the High Court of Justice against the synagogue a year ago.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said “the structure was demolished after the enforcement process was completed and an order for the demolition was issued. It should be noted that over the course of recent months the Civil Administration [of Judea and Samaria] instructed the Kiryat Arba Local Council to remove the structure independently.
“Since that did not occur, the structure was demolished as per protocol,” COGAT said. “Unauthorized construction is taken very seriously.”
Kiryat Arba Council head Malahi Levinger said it was no secret his office had been in contact with the Palestinian landowner in order to regulate the illegal construction, and that those contacts had been reported to the court.
“Unfortunately,” said Levinger, “the Defense Ministry officials did not understand the gravity of the issue and decided to destroy the synagogue. We protest this painful act and are working to rebuild the synagogue in the coming days.”