Court rejects petitions on separation barrier near Jerusalem

Court also denied request for a temporary injunction against construction of the "inner barrier" in the south Hebron hills.

The High Court of Justice has rejected two petitions filed by Palestinians against the separation barrier in the Jerusalem area, and a request for a temporary injunction against construction of the "inner barrier" in the south Hebron hills. The rulings were handed down on Sunday. The first petition was submitted by Palestinians from Anata protesting the route of the barrier which separated a hill that they own from the West Bank and their village. Originally, the barrier went right through the home of one of the petitioners and left the other homes on the "Israeli" side of the fence. Eventually the route was changed so that all the houses remained on the Palestinian side, while the rest of the hill, which the army maintained was of strategic importance for the protection of Pisgat Ze'ev and Highway 45, remained on the Israeli side. The court accepted the state's argument. In the second petition, residents of a small village east of Sur Bahir, A-Sheikh Sa'd, asked the court to shift the route of the barrier to include them on the Jerusalem side. Their homes are located inside the municipal boundaries of the city and they have Israeli identity cards, but the barrier - an eight-meter-high concrete wall - leaves them on the eastern side of it. It also cuts the residents off from large tracts of their land on the Israeli side. The court ruled that since the dispute was over the seizure of land inside Israel, the matter should be dealt with by the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court of Appeals. The court also rejected a request by petitioners to stop construction of the "inner barrier" in the south Hebron hills, which is planned to provide security on Highways 60 and 317, linking the Jewish settlements of Tene, Carmel, Sussiya, Shama and Maon. The barrier is planned to be 60 centimeters wide at its base, 20 centimeters wide at the top, and 82 centimeters high. It will extend 41 kilometers. The local Palestinian authorities of A-Samu, Dhahiriya, Nahalin and A-Tuwani and residents of nearby villages petitioned against the construction of the barrier and also asked for the interim injunction to freeze current construction. The court rejected the request for the interim injunction on the grounds that the damage caused by the barrier was relatively small and that the work could be reversed. It added that its rejection of the interim injunction request had no bearing on its decision on the main part of the petition.