Yesh Din protests Kochav Yaakov building

The settlement of Kochav Yaakov has illegally erected 12 mobile homes on private Palestinian land outside its jurisdiction and has prepared the earthwork for a similar number, the watchdog organization Yesh Din charged Thursday in a petition to the High Court of Justice. Lawyers Michael Sfard, Shlomy Zecharya and Avissar Lev filed the petition on behalf of Ali Barakat, head of the village council of Akeb, whose constituents allegedly own the land. The lawyers wrote that the construction was only discovered on August 6 and that they petitioned the High Court because the Justice Ministry was not in a rush to prevent further construction and the occupation of the mobile homes already standing, even though the homes were illegal. They said it would be much harder to dismantle the homes once they were inhabited and therefore speed was of the essence. The petitioners asked the court to immediately issue a one-sided injunction freezing all work on the project until the court could hold a hearing before both sides on their request for an interim injunction meant to continue the freeze until the court rules on the core of the petition, which is to halt the construction altogether. Although they described the structures as "mobile homes," the petitioners defined them as permanent housing. They warned the court that the homes were being completed "in lightning speed during these very days." They also referred to a report issued by Baruch Spiegel, who was appointed by the government to gather all the information on illegal construction in the West Bank. In that report, Spiegel reportedly wrote that Kochav Yaakov was built partly on state-owned and partly on privately-owned land. He added that some of the houses and roads had been built, and a sports field and earthworks for new construction prepared on land outside the settlement boundaries. The petitioners asked the court to intervene because nothing could be expected from the state. "Once again it emerges, as in many other cases of illegal construction by settlers in the occupied territories, that the law enforcement authorities disgrace themselves and us," the lawyers wrote. "The construction in the settlements, even though it is illegal, continues in full swing, at top speed and without interference. And all of this with the full knowledge of the law enforcement agencies who refrain from carrying out their elementary duties."