Israel to Demolish West Bank Construction Freeze Violations

The Civil Administration is planning to raze buildings in 46 locations in the West Bank that were constructed in violation of the settlement freeze.

The Civil Administration is planning to raze buildings in 46 locations in the northern West Bank where violations of the freeze on settlement construction were found to have occurred.

According to a document obtained by Haaretz, the plan includes razing six foundations for buildings in the settlement of Yitzhar.

A law enforcement source told Haaretz that efforts to raze structures erected in violation of the freeze will be expedited in the near future, due to Israel's desire to show that it is serious about the freeze now that proximity talks with the Palestinians are beginning.

There has been a noticeable increase in efforts to enforce the construction ban over the last week, peaking with the razing of a three-story home in the Hashmonaim settlement.

The Civil Administration, the army and the police all appear to be serious about enforcing the ban. Officials described the policy as one of "no winking" at illegal construction.

According to data given to the Supreme Court on May 2, inspectors supervising the freeze have carried out 1,044 patrols and confiscated construction equipment 39 times. In 20 cases, violations of the freeze were razed by the Civil Administration, and in 15 others, by the owners themselves. A total of 427 cases have been brought before a subcommittee supervising the ban, and 389 requests for exemptions from the ban have been discussed.

This week, the head of the Civil Administration's infrastructure department, Lt. Col. Zvika Cohen, prepared a document listing 46 violations of the construction ban in the northern West Bank. Copies of the document were sent to the director of the Civil Administration and the heads of the regional liaison and coordination offices.

Orders to raze the offending structures are first issued to the owners, who are supposed to do the job. If they do not, the Civil Administration carries out the demolition.

Leaders informed

Leaders of the affected settlements were informed of the intention to destroy the structures in question, in the hope of gaining cooperation for the operation in at least some cases.

The Civil Administration document lists the settlement where the violation took place, the construction involved, the date on which a case file was opened, the date on which a decision to raze the structure was made, and the precise coordinates of the site.

It also says that the security forces will raze any violations found in settlements along the Samarian mountain ridge in the northern West Bank, as these are considered the hard core of the ideological right.

The document does not specify when the demolitions will be carried out. Cohen wrote that the Civil Administration intends to take action at all the listed locations, but the timing will be based on available forces, operational exigencies, intelligence and other factors.

Local councils in the West Bank's Benjamin and Samaria districts expressed surprise at the scope of the demolition plans.

"[Defense Minister] Ehud Barak has decided to carry out a systematic demolition of Jewish settlement activity" in the West Bank, the councils said in a statement.