State Issues Demolition Order for Yitzhar Settlement Yeshiva

Demolition order one of series of enforcement steps taken in wake of clash between settlers and IDF troops in Yitzhar last month.

The Civil Administration issued an order on Sunday to renew the proceedings aimed at enforcing the demolition of the Od Hai Yosef yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar.

Settlers protesting in Yitzhar
Yitzhar spokesperson's office

The order is one in a series of enforcement steps taken after settlers clashed with security forces on Independence Day last month. Three Israel Defense Forces soldiers were wounded as stones were thrown near the hilltop settlement, known for its hard-line yeshiva, or Jewish seminary.

The IDF later harshly criticized the yeshiva over its students' involvement in numerous violent incidents in the area over recent months. The yeshiva was condemned to be demolished in 1999, but construction at the site continues until today.

Following the Independence Day incident, it was decided to step up the enforcement against illegal construction, particularly against the yeshiva. Now the yeshiva has the opportunity to appeal the order before it is finalized.

A senior source in the enforcement apparatus told Haaretz that this order is meant as a signal for the yeshiva, and that actual demolition is only a last resort. Regardless, in light of the priorities set by the High Court of Justice regarding the demolition of illegal structures, it is safe to assume that the building will not be demolished in the near future.

There are thousands of outstanding demolition orders for structures across the West Bank, both in the Jewish and Palestinian sectors, which are not enforced.

The Od Hai Yosef yeshiva told the right-wing Arutz 7 on Sunday that "it appears that the authorities are making special efforts to harm the yeshiva, in a vindictive manner."

"It must be noted that the structure is a glorious permanent structure that stretches over 1,300 square meters, and which was built with the assistance of the Construction Ministry and authorized by various state bodies to be used as an education institution," the yeshiva's statement continued. "In the demolition order it is written that it is based on an order to halt construction from 11 years ago – an order that we are hearing about for the first time now."