Flouting Court Order, Israel's Civil Administration Razes Classrooms in West Bank Village

On the same day a planning council was due to hear an appeal by villagers, the classrooms in the Bedouin community were demolished

Students at the only school in the Bedouin village of Al Muntar in the West Bank, January 2018.
\ Moti Milrod

Due to a bureaucratic mix-up, the the Civil Administration in the West Bank demolished two classrooms on Sunday that were used by children living in the Bedouin village of Abu Nuwar near the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.

The Civil Administration had ruled that the classrooms were built illegally without permits. However, the High Court of Justice last year ordered the Civil Administration to postpone the demolition until the legal status of the classrooms could be examined more thoroughly and all other administrative appeals had been exhausted.

On Friday residents of Abu Nuwar filed an appeal with the Civil Administration, extending the legal process, but due to miscommunication, the Civil Administration staff said they were unaware of the appeal.

The two classrooms were built last year. After the Civil Administration sought to demolish them for lack of proper permits, residents of the village filed their High Court petition. The justices decided not to rule on the petition, but ordered that no demolition work be carried out until 10 days after the Civil Administration made a final ruling on the matter. On January 24, a Civil Administration oversight subcommittee ruled against the villagers, who last Friday appealed to the Supreme Planning Council, meaning that the case was still pending. But on Sunday, prior to a hearing on the appeal, staff from the Civil Administration demolished the two classrooms.

A source said the enforcement staff of the Civil Administration had not known about the filing of the appeal last Friday because they don’t work on Fridays. As a result, they thought that the 10-day waiting period required by the court had passed without any further appeal.

In another case, the Civil Administration hurriedly impounded solar panels in Abu Nuwar just before the High Court of Justice issued an order restraining the authorities from doing so. The move was at variance with the state’s general practice of not taking action in cases pending before the High Court until the court issues an interim order.