A Druse village in the Golan Heights..
(photo credit: AP)
The Druse community in Majdal Shams, in the northern Golan Heights, is illegally building new neighborhoods covering an area of hundreds of dunams, some of which is national parkland, while the law enforcement agencies are doing nothing to stop it, the Regavim and Green Now organizations charged Wednesday in a High Court petition.
It is the second petition regarding this matter filed by Regavim, a nonprofit group established to protect the national lands.
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Regavim attorney Amir Fischer asked the High Court “to order the [government] to explain why it is not taking the necessary measures to prevent development and construction work and to demolish the buildings and roads that have been paved in a number of areas adjacent to Majdal Shams, on state land, in a declared nature reserve; and by so doing, causing critical and irreversible damage to the open, natural space which is not designated for building.
“The construction is illegal and is being carried out without building permits.”
The petitioners also asked the court to order the government to take measures against those responsible for the work.
The infrastructure work to prepare the land for residential construction was initiated by the Druse Wakf and began on October 1, 2009, according to Regavim. Before that, the wakf spent several years preparing the plan in detail, even allocating homes appearing on the maps to village residents.
The plans were not submitted to the local planning authorities.
The day before construction began, the wakf held a public rally to announce the beginning of the work. It hired guards to keep strangers out, flew Druse flags and stressed their national affiliation, apparently to Syria, though this was not specified in the petition.
Fischer said the construction was urban in scale and that hundreds of dunams of natural land at the foot of the Hermon range were being destroyed by the use of heavy engineering equipment.
Regavim filed its first petition against the illegal construction on
November 22, 2009. As soon as it did, construction on the site came to a
halt. In its answer to the petition, the government confirmed that the
construction was illegal and said it would punish those behind it.
The High Court then rejected the petition on the grounds that the
construction had stopped. Recently, however, Regavim visited the area
and found that work had been resumed at full speed. It then filed a new
petition to the High Court.
The state is due to submit its response on Thursday.