Court injunction halts Migron housing demolitions

"I understand that the order [to stop the demolitions] was given since there are legal reasons that have real weight," says Dani Dayan.

Migron outpost aerial_311 (photo credit: Baz Ratner / Reuters)
Migron outpost aerial_311
(photo credit: Baz Ratner / Reuters)
An emergency court injunction received at 2:30 a.m. halted the demolition of three homes at the Migron outpost in the West Bank on Monday just as cranes had arrived their doorsteps.
Initially the five cranes kept their lights on and their motors running. But after half an hour, they turned them off. The hundreds of border police who had stood by the homes with plastic shields and helmets, relaxed their vigilant guard.
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Families had already been forced to remove all their belongings from their homes.
Sofas, books, tables, chairs and boxes were stacked outside the three homes.
One neighbor sat outside her caravan on the ground in the dark and cried.
"The people in the houses went to the High Court of justice and they gave an order to stop immediately the destruction of the homes until a full hearing is conducted," said Dani Dayan who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
"I understand that the order [to stop the demolitions] was given since there are legal reasons that have real weight," said Dayan as he stood in the outpost, wearing a sweatshirt and holding a document from the court
"The most important thing to understand is that there was no court decision to demolish the homes, there is a commitment by the government," he said.
"I hope the government will reverse its commitment as soon as possible," said Dayan.
He added he believed that the hearing would be held later in the day.
Residents of Migron located in the Binyamin region, just outside of Jerusalem, had feared that the state would make good on its pledge to the court to take down the homes this month. It made the pledge in response to a petition by the Yesh Din organization.
Only last week Migron residents held a small rally of support at the outpost both for the three homes and in response to a decision earlier this summer by the High Court of Justice that the entire outpost is illegal and must be removed in March. The decision was in response to a petition by Peace Now.
Late Sunday night reporters and activists received frantic SMS messages that border police were on their way to take down the three homes.
Activists began to race to the outpost, but only a few managed to make it there ahead of the border police.
As residents and activists began to prepare, one young woman started shouting, "the police are here."
Border police began marching into the outpost. They created a a single file line around the homes and only allowed its residents to enter to remove personal items.
Resident of Migron began phoning politicians hoping they would intervene.
One commander reminded his men, "remember, keep a poker face. No one interacts with anyone."
One Mirgon resident who wore a headscarf and a skirt yelled out at them, "Tell me are you Jewish."
"Are we in Germany?" yelled out another resident.
As a few of the residents continued to yell out against the demolitions, border police cut the streetlights in the leaving everyone in the dark.
A Migron resident took went on a loudspeaker and began reciting prayers, as Israeli flags fluttered under the stars on outpost rooftops.
Even after the court injunction to halt the demolition, much of the outposts remained in the dark, as police lounged around waiting.
Outpost residents have claimed that their small hilltop community of 50 families which was built over a decade ago with state funds could be legalized.
The High Court of Justice has declared that the outpost is illegally built on private Palestinian land. Outpost residents have argued that the property was either abandoned or purchased from Palestinians.
But three of the homes are in imminent danger because they were built in the last year after a 2008 agreement between the state and Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip to relocate the outpost to the nearby settlement of Adam.
The state has frowned on the unauthorized construction and has separated the fate of those structures from the rest of the outpost.