Ofra officials: Controversial homes already occupied
The settlement of Ofra has connected nine homes allegedly built on Palestinian land to water and electricity, and people have moved in, Ofra's secretariat told the High Court of Justice Friday. This being the case, the demand by the human rights organizations Yesh Din and B'Tselem for an injunction against occupying the homes was irrelevant, Ofra's secretary, Meir Nahlieli, told the court.
Ofra argued that the organizations demanding the injunction "knew all along about the construction, since the development and building work began in June 2007."
The community secretariat added, "The petitioners waited intentionally before acting on the matter, hoping to cause the greatest possible damage to their political adversaries, and that they would invest in homes they could not live in."
Yesh Din said it was surprised by the accusations, and told the court the homes in question are at varying stages of construction; some have foundations only. Therefore, the settlement's claim that "all the houses" are occupied is strange, it said.
"This constitutes a major failure by the authorities," the petitioners told the court, adding that the situation "once again proved that the West Bank is devoid of any law enforcement for Israeli offenders." Yesh Din and B'Tselem also alleged that the "police knew illegal construction was underway on private Palestinian land; they even issued work-stoppage and demolition orders, but these were never carried out."
Sources in the Binyamin Regional Council, to which Ofra belongs, said they hoped the High Court would not accept the "irritating petition" of Yesh Din and B'Tselem, which it said was "groundless."
Two weeks ago, Ofra's rabbi, Avi Gisser, ruled that the contractor building the houses could use non-Jewish labor to continue working on the Sabbath so as to complete construction quickly. He issued the almost unprecedented religious ruling to prevent the authorities from intervening before construction was completed, and preventing people from moving into the houses.
Rabbi Gisser's ruling was controversial even among settlers, and was not accepted by all.