Border Police prepare for razing of nine Ofra homes

Settlers leaders, rabbis calls for activists to protest against demolition of nine houses.

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February 28, 2017 01:15
2 minute read.

Ofra Youth rally in front of a home slated for demolition. Credit: Ofra Youth

Ofra Youth rally in front of a home slated for demolition. Credit: Ofra Youth

 
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Security forces on Tuesday morning prepared to demolish nine single-family homes in the Ofra settlement, after the High Court of Justice issued its final ruling supporting the razing.

“This is a pointless act of injustice and we are obligated to protest it,” settler leader Avi Ro’eh wrote on Facebook the night before .

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Ro’eh is both the head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria as well as the Binyamin Regional Council under whose auspices Ofra is located.

“I call on everyone to come to Ofra tomorrow to join the protest,” he said.

He was joined in the call by leading national-religious rabbis who also plan to head to the settlement 5 km. northeast of Ramallah. This includes: Rabbis Haim Druckman, Yaakov Medan, Shmuel Eliyahu and Yehoshua Shapira, along with Ofra Rabbi Avi Gisser.

According to a spokesman for the families, all but one have already moved their possessions out of the homes. But they plan to be in the structures to protest their destruction.

The families have hung large signs with photos of themselves in front of the homes, along with other placards that state “Ofra demands law and justice.”

On Monday night, some of the families planed to hold religious classes in their homes and another organized a sing-along.

Teenagers have already began to gather outside the homes.

The High Court of Justice had ruled that the homes must be removed by March 5 because they were constructed without permits on private Palestinian property.

The homes are located on a street within the settlement and look like any other homes in the community.

Israeli NGO Yesh Din had petitioned against them in 2008, when they were just under construction.

Although the families had agreed in principle to move, they had asked the court to allow them to seal the homes, rather then destroy them.

In a petition to the court they had argued that the newly approved “Settlements Bill,” would allow for the legalization of the homes.

The bill retroactively authorizes settler homes built on private Palestinian property and mandates the compensation of the Palestinian land owners.

But the legislation excludes homes like the ones in Ofra, against which the High Court had ruled prior to the bill’s passage.

The families had asked the court to allow the law to apply to the homes, explaining that with the new legislation a master plan would be created for the community that would enable the legalization of their homes.

Chief Justice Miriam Naor rejected the request, explaining that the families petition was a “back-door” attempt to eliminate the legislation’s exemption clause.

She added that it was also not clear that the homes could be legalized at the end of what would surely be a protracted bureaucratic process. Supreme Court Vice President Elyakim Rubinstein said he agreed with Naor even though he had second thoughts and speculated as to whether there was a way to legalize the structures.

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