Israel's Public Security Minister Wants to Review All Home-razing Orders

Israeli authorities oppose the move that would apply to structures in the Negev and East Jerusalem, with officials telling Haaretz that the minister is not authorized to stop the demolitions, but only possibly delay them

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
A home demolition in Isawiyah, East Jerusalem, in February.
A home demolition in Isawiyah, East Jerusalem, in February.Credit: Emil Salman
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev has told senior ministry and police officials that every proposal to demolish unauthorized homes in Bedouin communities or in East Jerusalem must be submitted to him for review.

Senior law enforcement officials told Haaretz that the minister has no authority to revoke any demolition orders, but his move may delay their execution.

Bar-Lev issued his directive in a meeting last month with senior law enforcement officials, including Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, shortly after taking office.

The minister explained his decision by saying it is a sensitive issue that requires his involvement, but senior law enforcement officials have told Haaretz that they feel the decision was a political one, aimed at prevent a coalition crisis with the United Arab List.

At the meeting, Bar-Lev told the heads of the enforcement agencies that before a demolition order is carried out against illegally built structures in the Negev and East Jerusalem, the matter is to be brought to him. He will review all of the considerations behind the demolition order, the scheduled date and the method of implementation.

The Administration for the Coordination of Enforcement of Land Laws, a unit in the ministry, is responsible for coordinating the razing of illegally built structures with the police, the judicial authorities that issue demolition orders and other agencies.

According to the unit’s report for 2019, 2,241 demolitions were carried out of structures in the Negev, the large majority of which were conducted by the people who built them.

In a written response, Bar-Lev’s office said the matter is “according to the authority of the minister of public security to set policy in principle that will instruct the bodies subordinate to him, including the Israel Police, the minister is allowed to ask to update him on sensitive illegal construction orders with national or international importance for his examination and acquaintance before they are carried out, as well as the need to direct the sensitivity to the enforcement bodies and government.”

Click the alert icon to follow topics: