One month after Moshe Herzlich paid the tax bill on his new home in the Tapuah West outpost, security forces arrived at his door and demolished his pink stucco one-story structure, nestled on a Samaria hilltop.
Within hours on Tuesday, the home Herzlich had lived in with his wife, Rivka, and their nine children was reduced to rubble. The sofa sat on the rocky earth, next to the washing machine.
“They don’t treat terrorists this way,” said Herzlich, who was surprised to find a large contingent of IDF soldiers and border police at his door in the morning. He had not been served with a demolition order, he said – the security forces said that one had been faxed to him.
“I don’t own a fax,” said Herzlich. “This is a diplomatic decision [made by the upper echelon] – it has nothing to do with the court. There is no court order here; if someone has one I am willing to give him a million dollars.”
He added that he had no legal recourse by which to halt the demolition.
Herzlich’s new home was located in what’s left of the small West Bank community of Tapuah West, most of which was destroyed by security forces in June 2018 after the High Court of Justice ordered the removal of 10 illegal structures. It did so in response to a petition by the left-wing NGO Yesh Din.
Herzlich said that there was no such court order for his new home, which he built after last year’s demolition. His original home was not part of that demolition, but a court order prevented him and his family from continuing to live there.
One of the outpost’s founders 20 years ago, Herzlich told The Jerusalem Post that he had constructed his home in an area where the Samaria Regional Council planned to build a large extension of the adjoining Tapuah settlement.
Herzlich said the council intends to submit a master plan for the Tapuah West hilltop that, once built, will allow for 2,400 homes, likely small five-unit apartment buildings.
When he first built his home, Herzlich said, he received oral but not written permission to build. He charged that the council had pushed the Defense Ministry to take down his home because a one-family home did not conform with the new congested zoning plan it envisioned.
He said that for 20 years, the council supported their efforts to build a community on the hilltop. It was those efforts that opened the door to the potential legalization of the hilltop – and now that authorization is possible, “they simply do not need us anymore.”
He blamed both Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan and Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan for the destruction of his home. Dagan’s office denied Herzlich’s claim, and Ben-Dahan’s spokesman did not respond to a press query.
“What you are seeing here is the demolition of a home, not because of the High Court, not because of the status of the land, but because of internal politics of the settlement movement,” Herzlich continued. “The demolition order was signed apparently by Deputy Defense Minister Eli Dahan. He is the only one who can sign.”
Herzlich said that there is currently an absurd situation where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the defense minister, would have had to order Dahan – someone known as a settler supporter – not to demolish a home in Judea and Samaria.
During his election campaign, Netanyahu promised not to uproot any settler homes, and on Tuesday night he affirmed his commitment to Judea and Samaria.
Dagan called on Netanyahu not to allow such demolitions, explaining that such actions were not worthy of a right-wing government.
“The national-right-wing government that is now being created must reconsider its policies on this matter... and abandon the path of evacuation and destruction,” Dagan said. He was one of the only politicians or settler leaders to make such a public statement. Typically, dozens of statements are issued when such a demolition occurs.
The Civil Administration said that the home was illegally built, and that orders to stop the construction and demolition had been issued against it.Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.
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