Rally planned to prevent outpost home demolition

Home of young couple in Gush Etzion's Derech Ha'avot outpost slated to be demolished sometime this month.

house outpost elaza 248.88 (photo credit: )
house outpost elaza 248.88
(photo credit: )
Settlers plan to rally Monday evening at the Derech Ha'avot outpost in Gush Etzion to save the home of Tamar and Mordechai Bibi, slated to be demolished sometime this month. On Tuesday, the High Court of Justice gave the state 90 days to provide it with a timetable for enforcing Civil Administration demolition orders issued against other homes in the outpost, which was erected in February 2001 next to the settlement of Elazar, south of Jerusalem. But the Bibi home, a one-story stone structure built in 2008, has been the subject of two separate court petitions. Earlier this month, Defense Minister Ehud Barak wrote Interior Minister Eli Yishai that executing demolition orders against the Bibi home was a high priority for the enforcement authorities, whereas removing the rest of the outpost was of lesser importance for the state at this time. Barak explained that the Bibi home was built illegally on land that did not belong to the state. In a letter directly appealing to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to save their home, the Bibis wrote that the outpost was a neighborhood of Elazar. Derech Ha'avot, or as he called it, Netiv Ha'avot, has been the subject of six lawsuits by Peace Now, two of which were solely against his home, he said. It was unclear to him why the fate of his home was different from that of the rest of the outpost, he said. It was obvious that a mistake had been made and that no distinction should be made between his home and that of the rest of the outpost, Mordechai Bibi said. "All our lives we have tried to serve the country," wrote Bibi, adding that he was an IDF officer and his brother was a deputy commander. "I am turning to you and asking that you prevent the destruction of my home," Bibi wrote. Peace Now claims that the entire outpost is built on private Palestinian land. The larger petition against the outpost, which has 17 permanent homes and 15 caravans, was filed by eight Palestinian farmers from the village of El Khader, together with Peace Now. The Palestinians maintain that they own the land and cultivated it until the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000. They were forced to abandon it because of military curfews and closures, which forced them to remain at home. In February 2001, settlers built mobile and permanent homes on the land and moved in. The Civil Administration declared that the buildings were illegal and ordered the settlers to leave, but did nothing to enforce the orders. In its response to the Peace Now petition, the state acknowledged that the houses were illegally built and that the government would remove them according to an order of priorities it had established for dismantling all illegal Jewish construction in the West Bank. It did not confirm that the buildings were erected on private Palestinian land but said that since the land was not registered, it was unclear whether it was state- or privately owned. Furthermore, the state confirmed that there was no government-authorized development plan for the outpost. The justices, Edmond Levy, Miriam Na'or and Edna Arbel, asked the state for a "clear timetable" for enforcing the civil administration demolition orders. Derech Ha'avot is among the 105 outposts listed in the Sasson Report, which was accepted by the cabinet in 2005. The report notes that the Construction and Housing Ministry spent NIS 300,000 to develop the site. Derech Ha'avot is not one of the 26 outposts which Israel has promised the US it would remove. Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shaul Goldstein told The Jerusalem Post that the area was considered to be a neighborhood of Elazar, and characterizing the outpost as illegal was political. He said he had been at the court proceedings against the outpost and "When I heard the state's attorney speaking, I was sure that he was part of Peace Now. It was so disgusting, really." Earlier this week IDF commanders visited the outpost. Settlers fear that their visit was a preliminary step toward demolishing the Bibi home.