Top Court Asks Israel to Explain How It Plans to Stop Settler Land Grab

The Israeli Civil Administration gave the residents of the Nokdim settlement 15 days to explain how their construction on private Palestinian land does not constitute incursion

הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf
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The Nokdim settlement in 2010.
The Nokdim settlement in 2010.Credit: Daniel Bar-On
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

The High Court of Justice ordered the state on Monday to explain how it plans to prevent settler incursions onto a Palestinian enclave within an Israeli settlement.

On Sunday, Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank gave the residents of the Nokdim settlement 15 days to explain why their actions on the Palestinian land, such as planting trees and paving a bicycle path, should not be considered squatting. If they do not submit a response by that deadline, the state can uproot all the trees.

The 12 dunams (approximately 3 acres) of land at issue have already been recognized by the state as privately owned Palestinian land. When Nokdim was founded in the 1990s, these lands became enclaves within the settlement. To get to them, the Palestinian owners must coordinate their visits with the Civil Administration and the settlement itself.

The owners have filed two previous petitions to the court on this issue. One was withdrawn after the settlement promised to allow them access throughout the day. During hearings on the second, the state recognized the petitioners' connection to the land and promised to enable their access to it in coordination with the Civil Administration.

The current petition was filed because the owners say this promise hasn’t been kept, and moreover, settlers have been squatting on the land for years. It charged that the Civil Administration responds to their requests for access to the land only belatedly and disregards their agricultural needs.

In their petition, the Palestinians are requesting that the state explain why it has not fenced off the enclave and instilled security cameras there to prevent further incursions. At Tuesday’s hearing, Justices Alex Stein, Uzi Vogelman and Noam Sohlberg gave the state 60 days to explain what it plans to do to stop the squatters.

Vogelman criticized the Civil Administration for taking so long to finally demand that the settlers respond to the squatting charges. “Apparently, the petition has the power to serve as a trigger to speed up things that haven’t been done,” he said.

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