THE SYNAGOGUE in the outpost of Givat Sorek.
(photo credit: ELYASHIV LIVYATAN)
The civil administration is set to demolish the outpost synagogue in Givat Sorek that Palestinians torched in February, Gush Etzion Regional Council head Davidi Perl said on Wednesday.
In February, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had condemned the arson in which prayer books were burned. He had called on the international community to similarly denounce the torching of a house of worship.
Soon after his comments UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the attack.
But this week the Civil Administration for Judea and Samaria called Perl and told him that they intended to take down the small rebuilt modular structure located on a grassy hilltop outside the West Bank settlement of Karmei Tzur.
It was constructed in memory of Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gil-Ad Shaer, 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, whom Hamas terrorists kidnapped and murdered on June 12, 2014. It is located near the spot where the bodies of the three teens were found.
Perl said the civil administration considered the hilltop to be survey land, whose ownership status was unclear. To date, he said, the civil administration had ignored repeated requests by the council to determine whether the property was state land or if it belonged to local Palestinians.
The lack of clarity with regard to ownership made it impossible to obtain a building permit that would legalize the synagogue, Perl said.
Karmei Tzur spokesman Yehudi Vald said that Palestinians did not own the property and therefore there was nothing barring the civil administration from reclassifying it as state land.
The fact that Palestinian had targeted the synagogue was reason enough not to destroy it, Vald said.
He blamed Netanyahu for the civil administration’s determination to move forward with the demolition.
“What is Netanyahu’s message to the Palestinians here?” Vald asked. “Is he trying to tell them ‘I am sorry you burned it [the synagogue].
I wanted to do that?’” It’s a mistake to demolish a synagogue at a time when residents of Gush Etzion are fighting a daily battle against terrorism, Vald said.
“We’re in the middle of a war here,” he said.