In an Ironic Twist: Settlement Movement Petitions Court to Evict Squatters From West Bank Home

Amana, a group which usually fights against evictions, wants court to intervene in case of settlers who refused to breach injunction and sign lease for property under deliberation.

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Construction in Ofra, June 16, 2011.
Construction in Ofra, June 16, 2011.Credit: Gili Magen-Cohen
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

The Israeli pro-settlement movement Amana has petitioned the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court demanding that two settler families be evicted after they refused  sign a contract for homes built by the group -  despite a temporary Supreme Court injunction forbidding new tenants while the property was under deliberation.

Amana is battling a row of court petitions that call to demolish several of its houses built without permit and to evict its residents. Ironically, the settler organization now finds itself on the other side of the fence, turning to the court to evict alleged squatters even though the property was constructed without permit and on land seized from Palestinians.

The houses are located in an area in the West Bank settlement of Ofra which was seized from the Palestinian owners, residents of Silwad, in order to erect a Jordanian army base in 1966.

Though Amana holds neither ownership rights to the land or proper permits, it broke ground in the area in 2011. In April the same year the Palestinian land owners filed a petition demanding the houses be torn down and a temporary injunction to be issued to stop new tenants from moving in.

In anticipation of the injunction, Amana expedited its activity and called on the settler families to move in the uncompleted houses. The families committed to sign a contract within 30 days of the date of their moving in.

In June 2011, the Supreme Court issued an injunction forbidding any further construction on the land and banned the houses be connected to infrastructure. Additionaly, the injunction forbade "any transaction in the houses to take place." Thus, the families could not legally sign the contracts. However, that did not hinder Amana's efforts to make the settlers sign contracts. Some agreed, but two families refused.

Despite promises by Amana that the families would be fully reimbursed should the Supreme Court force the demolition or eviction of the houses within a year of signing the contract, the two families stood firm, and Amana petitioned the court for their eviction last week.

Amana director Ze'ev Hever did not respond to Haaretz. Attoreny Nadav Ha'ezani who represents the movement told Haaretz: "The man is residing in the property with no legal right. He doesn't pay rent. There's no such thing to be in a home without rent."

Ha'ezani added: "The Haaretz newspaper better ask itself to what lows will it descend in order to give the land of Israel to the enemy."

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