Israel Confirms School in West Bank Settlement Built Illegally on Palestinian Land

Four years after construction of school complex, Civil Administration says 'enforcement proceedings will be adopted against it.'

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Children at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Shaarei Tikva in 2010.
Children at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Shaarei Tikva in 2010.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

The Civil Administration has confirmed that a school in the settlement a West Bank settlement was built and operates on private Palestinian land.

The Administration stated that the school buildings in Sha’arei Tikva were constructed illegally, and declared that “enforcement proceedings will be adopted against it.” A perusal of aerial photographs of the site indicates that there are 18 illegal buildings in the school complex.

According to the Madlan real estate website, the school was built in 2012 and has over 400 pupils. The state religious school is at the edge of the settlement, with cultivated areas beyond it.

This is not the first time an Israeli school was built in violation of the law regarding private Palestinian land. In 2012 Haaretz reported that a school in the Neve Ya’akov neighborhood in northern Jerusalem was built on private Palestinian land, in violation of the law. It is in the northernmost part of the capital but outside the municipality’s area of jurisdiction, which means the Civil Administration is responsible for enforcement.

In 2012 the Civil Adminstration confirmed that “this is a building that serves as an educational institution, which was built illegally and without the required approval of plans. The owners of the building received a stop-work order and a summons to the subcommittee for monitoring, and when they didn’t show up a demolition order was issued.”

But not only was the building not demolished, two new illegal buildings were added. The Civil Administration confirmed that the buildings are illegal and were issued a demolition order, but because of a petition to the High Court of Justice it has yet to be implemented.

Dror Etkes, of the left-wing Kerem Navot organization, which keeps track of settlement policy in the territories, said, “It’s no wonder that while Israel’s racist education minister is busy trying to find ways to make vermin like the Amona outpost kosher and to initiate laws meant to silence organizations such as Breaking the Silence, his officials are budgeting schools built on stolen private lands in other settlements.”

Regarding the school in Sha’arei Tikva, the Civil Administration replied, “The building was constructed without the required permits from the Civil Administration and monitoring proceedings will be instituted against it.”

It stated in regards to the school in Neve Ya’akov that “The school and two additional buildings were issued demolition orders, concerning which there is still a petition to the High Court pending.”

About other buildings in the area, it said that “A request was submitted for planning processes, which is being examined by the Civil Administration, and therefore the demolition orders haven’t been implemented. It should be noted that demolition orders issued against two containers placed near the buildings were implemented after the conclusion of enforcement proceedings."

The Education Ministry responded that the school is in temporary buildings at the moment, which were put up by the local council. The ministry has issued a program for building a permanent building for the school.

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