High Court: Gaza synagogues may be relocated, not razed
State must tell court by Thursday if moving constructions to Israel is feasible or not.
The High Court of Justice on Tuesday ordered the state not to let security forces dismantle synagogues and Torah academies in the Gaza Strip before Thursday, after Elei Sinai rabbi Yishai Brohan petitioned the court with a request to relocate the constructions into Israel proper.
Also Tuesday Israel's Chief Rabbis Yonah Metzger and Shlomo Amar met Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and discussed the fate of synagogues in evacuated settlements.
Sharon agreed to the rabbis' request to set up a joint committee made up of representatives from the Chief Rabbinate and the Sela Disengagement Authority to determine the procedure for dismantling the synagogues.
Metzger and Amar asked that the state build a new synagogue for every prayer house left in the Gaza Strip and the nothern West Bank. They also turned to Sela representatives and asked them to make every effort not to disperse evacuated communities during their relocation.
State must decide synagogues' fate in two daysAt the court session Justices Dorit Beinisch, Edmond Levy and Elyakim Rubinstein ordered the state to reply within two days whether it would be possible to dismantle parts of the synagogues and reuse them in the construction of new synagogues in Israel proper.
One of the options for relocation is the temporary community built in Nitzan. The state pledged not to dismantle or demolish synagogues in the Gaza Strip before the two-day deadline expires. There are 30 synagogues and eight Torah academies in the Gaza Strip.
The synagogue at the northern Gaza settlement of Nisanit is the only one dismantled so far. The state's representative attorney Avi Licht said the government had examined over the last year the possibility of relocating the constructions into Israel proper, but decided this option was technically impossible to achieve.
Justice Levy, who has voiced his objection to the disengagement in the past, was upset. "This is a painful subject," he said during the session, "but now we must see what can be done practically."
"When I walked into the courtroom I though the state should have a hard time, especially when we look at a procedure that aims to bring peace on earth - why not leave the constructions there? Why not put the other party to the test?" said the Justice.
"But then I told myself that knowing the (Palestinians), if we leave the synagogues where they are we would be contemptuous (towards the prayer houses), and the state must act as a state should and do this much (for the sake of their preservations)," said Levy.