Court Gives Mofaz 10 Days for Plans to Demolish Illegal Outpost

Ruling follows intermediate warning in August requiring state to evacuate outpost after the disengagement.

The High Court of Justice told Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz Thursday to report within 10 days on preparations to demolish illegal structures at the Amona outpost near the West Bank settlement of Ofra.

A similar demand was transmitted to the commander of the Israel Defense Forces in the West Bank, the head of the Civil Administration, the commander of the Samaria and Judea police, the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council, and the company that initiated the construction project, Binyanei Bar Amana.

Justice Ayala Procaccia did not make do with Mofaz's pledge to the High Court at the beginning of the month to remove the structures by the end of January 2006, "unless the security situation did not allow it." In her ruling, Procaccia required Mofaz to elaborate on the "security situation" before the last date slated for the buildings' evacuation.

In response to another High Court petition regarding the evacuation of the illegal outposts Harasha and Hayovel, Haaretz reported Thursday that the state had argued that the demolition orders were not implemented, due to, among other reasons, political considerations, and cited the upcoming elections.

Procaccia issued an intermediate ruling at the beginning of July requiring the state to evacuate the families living in the nine houses at the Amona outpost in response to a petition submitted by Peace Now through attorney Michael Sfard. The order requires the head of the Civil Administration and the commander of the Samaria and Judea police to "use all means at their disposal to prevent occupation of the structures at the outpost of Amona, and to enforce the cessation of work orders issued in the matter until any other ruling is made by the court."

At the beginning of August, the State Prosecutor's Office stated that "because of the political sensitivity of the pre-disengagement period," the state would demolish the nine structures after the disengagement. Despite a pledge by Mateh Binyamin Regional Council head Pinhas Wallerstein to GOC Central Command Yair Naveh that settlers would not move into the nine buildings, a Civil Administration inspection discovered that some of the structures were occupied.

Twenty-five families are living in 53 prefabricated houses in Amona. The Talia Sasson report on the outposts stated that Amona was built on private Palestinian land. Sasson noted that the Housing Ministry had funded the infrastructure for NIS 2.1 million, without receiving government approval or authorization from Mofaz, without any government or public body having allocated land, and without any planning status.