A Palestinian local leader and an Israeli human-rights group are collaborating in an unusual motion filed Monday with the High Court of Justice: They want the judges to order Israeli law enforcement agencies to pursue charges against the head of a settler non-profit and leaders of a West Bank settlement, for allegedly interfering with legal processes, perjury, breaking a court order and illegal construction.
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The offenses against the head of the settlement movement Amana, Ze’ev “Zambish” Hever, and leaders of the settlement Rahelim, are alleged to have taken place in Rahelim after a motion was filed in March 2009, asking the courts to enforce demotion orders issued for nine illegally built houses. Shortly after that motion, Justice Hanan Melcer issued an interim order prohibiting construction on the land, or any transactions in buildings on the land.
Yet construction on the site continued, following which the petitioners, the council chief of the Palestinian village As-Sawiya and the human-rights organization Yesh Din, complained to the police, which began an investigation. A great deal of evidence was found to show the court order was being ignored, the petitioners claim – including admissions by families that had moved into their homes after the court order had been issued. Occupants of Rahelim also attested to deep involvement by Amana in populating the houses.
But the police closed the case in 2013. The only one to face charges was the secretary of the outpost, Noam Shamba, for perjury, after he stated to the court that some of the houses had been populated before the High Court order. Even the families said otherwise. The prosecution later retracted its indictment.
A letter sent in November 2009, half a year after the court’s order, was attached to Monday’s motion. The letter is from the Rahelim secretariat to a family intending to move into one of the houses involved in the case. “It’s essential to populate the houses, for a number of reasons. I’ll just name two of them: First, the moment you move into these houses, we’ll be able to take new families into the settlement. Also, these houses are supposed to be occupied, that’s how they’re reported and there’s going to be an inspection of the matter. If it turns out they aren’t, their status could change.”
The November 2009 letter also says that the Rahelim secretariat consulted with Hever, and understood from him that there is no danger of being evicted from the houses. Yet meanwhile, the High Court was still discussing the houses and had banned their occupancy. “The rest of the houses will be occupied immediately after the works are finished,” the letter continues. “Regarding these houses, the legal discussion really is taking place and it isn’t clear yet what their fate will be. But in any case, according to what we were told, Zambish plans to populate them immediately.”