Israel's High Court of Justice ruled on Sunday against a petition demanding that the police confiscate money raised for the reestablishment of two illegal outposts demolished by the authorities in the West Bank.
The petition, filed by left-wing organization Peace Now, claimed that the right-wing NGO Vayarshtem Ota raised more than 320,000 shekels (almost $100,000) to reestablish the two outposts, Maoz Esther and Aira Shachar, and argued that the court should instruct the police to confiscate the money to prevent the commission of illegal acts.
The court, however, explained its ruling by saying that the police “have broad professional discretion with regard to the use of their authority” and that the petitioners had not given the police enough time to respond to their request to take action.
Two weeks ago, some 400 security personnel participated in the evacuation of the two outposts, during which more than 20 structures were demolished.
One security source criticized the evacuation: “Major enforcement once every two years creates a lot of noise, but is not effective.”
Despite the eviction, the residents of the outpost launched a crowdfunding campaign to reestablish them, with Rabbi Haim Druckman and Religious Zionism lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich, who also made a video encouraging contributions, among the donors. Meanwhile, the settlers have begun rebuilding the outposts.
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On March 19, activist Hagit Ofran, together with the Peace Now movement, filed a High Court petition alleging that this was not the first time the NGO has been used a channel for fundraising to construct illegal outposts in the West Bank. “[Failure to] thwart illegal construction encourages the phenomenon and worsens the political, diplomatic and international implications of lawbreaking.” On March 22, the petitioners also asked Israel Police in a “necessary and urgent demand” to use of its authority to confiscate the money collected from the public for construction of the outposts and “prevent the commission of criminal offenses.”
Peace Now responded to the petition's rejection by saying: “Instead of stopping the money before the illegal construction begins, the police prefer to wait until the structures are built and then send 400 police personnel to evict a handful of offending youths...The High Court refused to intervene in the discretion of the police, although evidence was presented from previous instances in which the police did nothing.”