Phone calls made at 3 a.m. to a state prosecutor by Defense Minister Ehud Barak
and OC Central Command Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi led to the demolition of
three homes at the Migron outpost earlier this month, settler leaders and
right-wing politicians learned on Monday.
During a heated debate in front
of a subgroup of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, its
chairman, MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), raised the question of who had invoked a
temporary injunction to stop the demolitions.
Just as cranes were about
to take down the three homes at 2:30 a.m. on September 5, settlers received an
emergency injunction from the High Court of Justice pending a hearing no later
than 1 p.m. that same day.
But within less than two hours, by 4:10 a.m.
Judge Neal Hendel who had initially issued the injunction, revoked
His sudden shift, after settlers believed they had secured a reprieve
has lead in the last week to enormous speculation as to who had pressured him to
change his mind.
But in the Knesset on Monday, Osnat Mandel, who directs
the department in the State Attorney’s Office that deals with petitions before
the High Court of Justice, explained how the revocation happened.
a.m., she said she had received a call both from Barak and Mizrahi explaining
that it would be dangerous to wait.
They were concerned the Border
Police, who was present in large force, would be vulnerable to attack if it
spent a long time waiting on the outpost, she said.
It was this
information that caused Hendel to revoke the injunction, she said.
the harm caused to the women and children who were forced out of their homes,
that didn’t concern them,” said MK Michael Ben-Ari (National
Listening to Mandel, Avi Ro’eh, who heads the Binyamin Regional
Council, got so upset, that he walked out of the room, slamming the door behind
Almost as if he was in a courtroom, Elkin plied Mandel with
Had she known, he asked, that Minister without portfolio
Bennie Begin had been trying to work with the settlers and the Defense Ministry
to try and find a way to stave off the demolitions? “I think he might have said
something to me in the hallway,” she said, noting his efforts had not been
Elkin also wanted to know if Mandel had thought at 3
a.m. to notify the cabinet secretary, Tzvi Hauser.
She said “no,”
it had not occurred to her. She said maybe it would have been different had the
event unfolded during the day.
MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) charged that
Mandel had failed to follow proper procedure by neglecting to notify the Prime
“Look who’s in charge here,” retorted Ben-Ari. “Tzvi
Hauser is out, Osnat Mandel is in.”
Getting red in the face, he called
Mandel a “law-breaker.” In the course of enforcing the law, she broke it,
But Mandel remained calm throughout the discussion, explaining
calmly the decision making process.
She also stated clearly the state’s
belief, which has been upheld by the High Court of Justice, that the entire
outpost of 50 families was illegal.
She noted it was built without a
government decision, without an approved master plan and without permits for the
Separately, she said, the outpost is located on private
Ro’eh said that while it was true the outpost lacked
the proper authorization, it was built with the knowledge of many
He said those who moved there saw themselves as emissaries of
the state, and in particular their presence, along with other outposts, helped
protect Route 60 from terrorist attacks.
But Mandel insisted the outpost
was illegal. She said the state was particularly upset by the construction of
three homes at the hilltop community this year, because they were built after an
agreement was reached between the state and the Council of Jewish Communities of
Judea, Samaria and Gaza to relocate the outpost to the nearby settlement of Geva
Based on a High Court decision this summer, in response
to a 2006 petition by Peace Now, the state must now demolish the Migron outpost
in March, independent of the completion of any plan to transfer the outpost.
Yesh Din, separately had filed a petition against the three homes. The state
took down the homes in response to the petition, prior to any final ruling by
Separately, during the debate, settler leaders and right-wing
activists complained the civil administration selectively enforced West Bank
building laws against Jews, while ignoring illegal Palestinian
Ro’eh said there was a sense the IDF and the state were
purposely making life difficult for the settlers in Judea and Samaria, while
looking to improve the quality of life for Palestinians.