Israel's High Court Cancels Mistaken Ruling That Banned Palestinian Family From Its Home

The petition by settler association Regavim to prevent habitation of a house the family had lived in since 1993 contained misinformation.

The High Court of Justice corrected a previous ruling after being informed that a petition by settler association Regavim contained misinformation.

In August, Justice Elyakim Rubinstein issued a temporary injunction to stop construction and prevent habitation of a house in the village of Al-Dirat in Mt. Hebron - but in fact the house wasn't just being built, it had been lived in since 1993.

An attorney representing the family living in the house produced documents and photographs proving as much. The court altered its ruling and Regavim withdrew the petition.

Regavim is an association "dedicated to prevent illegal elements taking control of the national land resources." The house was built on private land, but Regavim's petition argued that since it is close to the main road, it constitutes a "security threat," adding that it is "in the final stages of construction."

It appears that in fact, the house was built in the beginning of the 1990s when residents believed that due to negotiations with Israel, the constrictions on Palestinian construction would be lifted. The Arda family - three brothers, their wives, mother and children, have lived there since 1993. The family was completely unaware of the appeal, since Regavim's attorney, Boaz Arazi, did not include them in the list of those demanded to respond to the petition, naming mostly Israeli authorities and the village council head.

On August 21 the family received a order from the Civil Administration stopping all construction, signed by "Carlos." The family said the Civil Administration official told them that "the settlers have their eye on you."

The family requested the aid of attorney Eitay Mack, who discovered in mid-September on the Regavim website that a petition was submitted against "A Palestinian house which constitutes a security threat ... to the Jewish travelers on the road." Mack learned that on August 28, Rubinstein issued a temporary injunction forbidding further construction and "population of the house" based on the incorrect information. The written decision states that court clerks "unsuccessfully tried to obtain the response of respondee 4 (the village council head )."

Mack asked the court to add the family as respondees and wrote that the information in the petition was based on partial observations of the house during a month when the family was replacing the bars on the windows and whitewashing the exterior walls. Submitted photos proved the house was not new, and was populated for years (since 1993 ).

"The fact that the [Arda family] wasn't addressed as respondees prevented the court from being presented with the necessary relevant facts," Mack wrote. Meanwhile, the Civil Administration, which at first did not oppose the injunction against populating the house, admitted in a new response that the house was constructed years ago, and a second story added in 2009.

Last Thursday, Rubinstein struck off the "prevention of population" part of the injunction. Regavim withdrew the petition.

In response to Haaretz's query, a court spokesman said that as a rule, the family should have been named as a respondee, "but it could also be done during the processing of the petition, as often happens."

A month ago, High Court Justice Daphne Barak-Erez refused to issue a temporary injunction in a similar Regavim petition since the petitioners "did not fulfill their duty of informing the relevant parties of the petition."

Guy Butavia