Barak appeals to Beinisch over Klein, Peretz demolitions

Defense minister asks to delay deadline for state’s update on steps to demolish 18 illegal houses in Hayovel and Haresha.

April 16, 2010 01:59
3 minute read.
Ehud Barak at Tel Hashomer

Barak binoculars 311. (photo credit: Ministry of Defense)

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has sent a personal letter to Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch asking her to postpone the deadline for the state’s update on the steps it is taking to demolish 18 illegal houses in the outposts of Hayovel and Haresha.

The widows of two IDF majors – Ro’i Klein, who was killed during the Second Lebanon War, and Eliraz Peretz, who was slain in Gaza last month – live in two of the houses slated for demolition in the Hayovel outpost.

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“The shock and tragedy that have befallen the small community require sensitive and humane handling of the matter of demolishing the homes,” Barak wrote. “The very preoccupation with the dates of the demolitions at this time ought to be postponed to a later time.”

Peretz was killed in a firefight with Palestinian terrorists along the Gaza border on March 26. Klein fell on a hand grenade to save his soldiers during the battle against Hizbullah forces during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

The Peace Now movement and former Peace Now activist Dror Etkes filed the petition in 2005, asking the court to order the state to implement demolition orders it had issued against the buildings.

Last year, the court said it was dissatisfied with the general and uncommitted replies of the state as to when it would demolish the homes and ordered it to begin hearings for all the owners of the houses, a step on the way to implementing the orders. Four months later, the state replied that it had not completed the hearings, but that it had also decided to reexamine the status of the land upon which the buildings had been constructed with a view to retroactively legalize them.

In February, the court rejected the state’s response and ordered it to complete the hearing process and provide a detailed timetable for the demolition of the homes. It gave the state until May 1 to present its reply. Now, Barak has asked for the court’s permission to postpone the state’s reply until November 1.

On Thursday, Peace Now spokeswoman Hagit Ofran announced that the organization was considering asking the court to exclude the homes of Peretz and Klein from those it was calling on the state to demolish.

The organization’s secretary-general, Yariv Oppenheimer, said Wednesday that “we, too, are attentive to the families’ suffering and the delicate situation. We are not insensitive; the thought that soldiers might come to evacuate those homes is difficult to bear, also for us.”

However, even if Peace Now does withdraw the petition regarding the homes of Peretz and Klein, it will not do so with the other 16 homes.

“There is a campaign by right-wing officials trying to exploit difficult cases to prevent the evacuation of any outpost, and we do not want to step into that trap,” Oppenheimer said.

On Thursday, 15 members of the Knesset Lobby for Greater Israel toured the outpost and attacked Barak for not legalizing the homes.

To call for a half-year delay is “crazy,” said MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) who co-chairs the lobby. What, he asked, would change in that time? “Will the blood of the residents be worth less then?”

Separately, Nohi Eyal, director-general of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, charged that Barak was “spitting in the face of the two IDF heroes and their families” by not signing the document that would legalize all of the houses.

“The facts are simple,” said Eyal. “All the planning procedures have been completed, no Palestinian land is involved and there are dozens of neighborhoods in the same situation throughout Israel.”

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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