Family of Golani hero may lose home

Roi Klein, who sacrificed his life to save others in 2nd Lebanon War, lived in illegal Hayovel outpost.

Roi Klein 88 248 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Roi Klein 88 248
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Almost three years after his death in the battle of Bint Jbail during the Second Lebanon War, Maj. Roi Klein's widow, Sarah, and their two young children face eviction from their home in the unauthorized Hayovel outpost in the West Bank. To save his men in Bint Jbail, Klein jumped on a grenade as he uttered the prayer "Shema Yisrael" (Hear O'Israel) on July 26, 2006. The son of Holocaust survivors, the Golani Brigade officer was one day shy of his 31st birthday. A stone plaque describing his heroism stands at the Hayovel outpost, in front of a park built by private donations from the United States. Earlier this week, the High Court of Justice gave the state four months to hold hearings for the residents of 12 illegal homes in Hayovel and six in the nearby Haresha outpost, preliminary to carrying out demolition orders issued against them four years ago. The court asked the state for a report on the progress of the hearing in four months time. News that Klein's home is among the 12 has angered members of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel. Its director-general, Nachi Eyal, wrote a letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak asking that he spare the homes. "As someone who would be responsible for destroying the home of an Israeli hero, would your hand not tremble?" Eyal asked Barak in his letter. "Roi Klein can not call out from his resting place, but he is certainly turning over in his grave," said Eyal. He urged Barak to render the whole issue of illegality moot by signing documents to legalize the structures. But although he addressed his letter to Barak, the issue has been pushed to the forefront by a High Court petition filed by Peace Now against 18 homes in the two outposts in 2005. Hagit Ofran of Peace Now told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that at that time, Klein was still alive. The fact that his home was one of the 18 became problematic only after his death, but did not cause the organization to back away from its petition to the court, in which it hoped to push the state to carry out already existing demolition orders. "It is an unfortunate circumstance, but it is not connected," said Ofran. Klein's status as a hero had nothing to do with the fact that the homes are illegal, she said. The 18 families, including the Kleins, moved into the homes in the midst of the court case, knowing there was a pending legal issue, Ofran said. Still, she said, she hoped the Construction and Housing Ministry would provide his family with an alternative home. Hayovel and Haresha are not among the 26 hilltop communities, constructed after March 2001, that the Defense Ministry has promised the US that it would remove. They are among the remaining 79 outposts which, according to the 2005 Talia Sasson report, were built in the West Bank between 1991 and March 2001. Both outposts where built on land that is partially owned by the state and partially by Palestinians. They are located in the area of the Binyamin Regional Council. Built in 1998, Hayovel is on the outskirts of the Eli settlement and according to Peace Now, it has 30 caravans and 17 permanent homes. Eli is about 30 minutes from Jerusalem and has some 3,000 residents. Harisha was constructed in 1997 on the outskirts of the Talmon settlement and according to Peace Now it has 45 caravans and eight permanent structures. Peace Now, however, filed petitions against only those homes that were in the process of being built in 2005. But Kobi Eliraz, the head of Eli's local council, said that contrary to the Sasson report, which lists Hayovel as a separate outpost, it is actually a neighborhood of Eli. It has been part of the settlement's master plan since the 1980s, even though people only moved there in 1998. The Construction and Housing Ministry has invested NIS 2.75 million in the area, he said. Tamar Asraf, from Hayovel, whose home is also under threat of destruction, said this week she still remembers how right after they moved there in 1998, then national infrastructures minister Ariel Sharon visited to show support for the new neighborhood. The area has many of the necessary permits, and needs only Barak's signature to turn it into a legal part of Eli, Eliraz said. Most of the neighborhood is built on state land, and only a fraction of it is considered to be survey land, which is considered to be private Palestinian land. But that section is not contested and no Palestinians have claimed ownership. The people who live there are not teens camping out in a shack, but people like Klein, who believe deeply in the state, Eliraz said. Asraf said that the area is particularly attractive to young couples and families. When she moved in, she had no idea that the neighborhood was contested and was even able to get a mortgage from a bank to build her home, Asraf said. She added that the neighborhood, which is home to some 40 families, has known its share of sorrow. Aside from the Kleins, the neighborhood had also been home to Avi Volansky, 29, and his wife, Avital, 27, who was in an advanced stage of pregnancy when both of them were killed by a Palestinian sniper on August 4, 2002, as their car neared the settlement. Their sons Yigal, 2, and Nadav, 8 months, were injured. Dan Izenberg contributed to this report.