Etzion field school bids to move fence, save forest

In a reversal of recent norms, a Jew petitioned the High Court of Justice on Thursday to change the route of a small section of the separation fence - where it is currently designed to skirt a forest which has been an official nature reserve since British Mandate times. The petition was submitted by attorney Ze'ev Dasberg on behalf of the Kfar Etzion Field School. Early Thursday morning, as tractors were about to move into the disputed area, Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinisch issued an interim injunction barring the state from uprooting trees or taking other action to erect the fence until it ruled on the petition. The fence route twists and turns and then suddenly forms a narrow U shape, with the eastern side of the U heading southward along the western edge of the forest. The petitioners suggested straightening out the fence by eliminating the twists and turns and placing the U to the south of the present route. "The petitioners will argue that the route of the fence disproportionately and unnecessarily harms the Abu Suda forest reserve… which is a protected and unique natural resource in the area," wrote the petitioners. "Its uniqueness, in part, has to do with the fact that it is one of the few isolated remnants of the woods that covered the hilltops and were destroyed during Turkish times. It contains trees that are decades old and other special growth." Field school head Yaron Rosenthal told The Jerusalem Post, "I don't have the faintest idea why they have to build an extra one-and-a-half kilometers of fence that will cost millions of shekels." He warned that if the fence was constructed as planned, the army would have to destroy the forest because terrorists could hide in it to attack IDF patrols. Dasberg submitted the petition to the court at 8:30 on Thursday morning, the exact hour the tractors were supposed to begin work. Rosenthal said he and his friends blocked the tractors with their bodies until the court issued the interim injunction.