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Palestinians: Stop building at Gilad Farm outpost
By JOANNA PARASZCZUK
02/20/2012
Immatin villager says settlers building 2 illegal permanent structures on his private land, without his consent.
 
Palestinian residents of Immatin, near Nablus, filed a petition to the High Court of Justice on Sunday, asking that the court issue injunctions to halt all construction in the West Bank outpost of Gilad Farm (Havat Gilad).

Established in 2003, Gilad Farm is located around 1.5 kilometers from the Kedumim settlement and is named for Gilad Zar, the Shomron Regional Council security coordinator murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 2001. While Gilad Farm settlers maintain that the land is privately owned by Zar’s father Moshe, Palestinians claim the land is theirs and say the outpost was constructed illegally on lands belonging to the Palestinian village of Far’ata.

Civil rights group Yesh Din filed the petition on behalf of Immatin villager Azat Assad Rashid Zoan, who says the settlers are building two illegal permanent structures on his private land, without his consent and the appropriate planning permits.

Furthermore, the petition claims that part of the structures are actually located on Area B territories, which are not under the jurisdiction of the Israeli civilian authorities. (Area B territories are under Palestinian civil control and joint Israeli-Palestinian security control.) The petition also requests the enforcement of previously issued stop-work orders and demolition orders against the outpost.

Yesh Din attorney Michael Sfard, who filed the petition on behalf of the Palestinian villagers, said the petition is urgent because the Gilad Farm structures are almost complete. If the buildings are inhabited, it will be harder for the court to enforce their demolition, since according to IDF regulations the defense minister must personally approve all demolitions of West Bank homes in which Israelis reside. The settlers and their supporters could then create political pressure that could lead to delays in demolition of the buildings, he said.

“It is possible that it would take a long time until [the defense minister] could deal with a case involving two buildings out of the tens of thousands already standing and that are continuing to be built in the West Bank,” the petitioners say, adding that they felt they had “no choice but to file the petition, and in real-time, with the understanding that if the court does not intervene, the petitioners’ land will suffer a fate similar to that of other private Palestinian land – exclusion and long-term plunder.”

By enforcing the stop-work orders and demolishing the buildings in Gilad Farm, the court would “significantly strengthen the rule of law in the West Bank regarding illegal construction in the outposts,” the petitioners claim.

They argue that the law enforcement authorities in the West Bank have “given up the fight” of attempting to stop illegal construction.

According to the petitioners, when the Palestinian villagers discovered that settlers were carrying out illegal construction on the land in late 2010, they filed two complaints with the Israeli police in the West Bank. However, the police closed the files and marked them “offender unknown,” so the construction continued.

The petitioners also claim they paid a visit to the construction site just ten days before filing the High Court petition, and discovered that settlers have started to build an additional structure on the land.

Attorney Avishar Lev, Yesh Din’s legal adviser, said on Sunday that the settlers had acted “in clear and blatant defiance of the law” by building on the land in Gilad Farm.

“Settlers in the area have learned that there is no need to acquire building permits,” Lev said, adding that the settlers were trying to establish “facts on the ground.”

“This case is especially severe because the construction is being carried out outside the area under Israeli civilian control, which illustrates the prevailing lawlessness in the West Bank,” said Lev, referring to the petitioners’ claims that settlers are constructing parts of the buildings in Area B.
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