Settlers Build 15 New Structures Despite Construction Freeze

The state allowed settlers to continue building in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Netafim.

Residents of the Kiryat Netafim settlement in the northern West Bank have built 15 new structures on their land with state approval, despite the construction freeze Israel declared late last year. The government gave the go-ahead for the construction just weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the temporary freeze.

In response to a petition filed by anti-settlement group Peace Now against the construction ? which it cites as being carried out on Palestinian land - the state said the Civil Administration inspectors were unable able to enforce the freeze there due to lack of manpower.

Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer told Army Radio on Friday that it was unacceptable for the state to ignore such violations.

"We must work against the settlers who break the law again and again," Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer told Army Radio. "We expect the Defense Ministry to work tirelessly and aggressively against anyone who breaks the orders of the High Court, and to prosecute those responsible," Oppenheimer added.

It is "unacceptable for the IDF to demolish pavilions in temporary outposts like Maoz Esther, and on the other hand allow settlers to break the High Court's freeze order and build whole houses in a place like Kiryat Netafim," Oppenheimer said.

Since the building plans were approved, residents of Kiryat Netafim have made significant progress in the building of the structures, said the state, Last month, state inspectors found that the houses already have roofs, doors, and windows.

Another inspection found that additional foundations have been laid in the area, which is a blatant violation of the Court's orders. The state says that in a patrol done Thursday night, there were no changes to the structures, and so the state claims construction work in Kiryat Netafim has stopped.

The head of the Samaria Regional Council, Gershon Mesika, told Army Radio that the construction was done just to allow the residents of Kiryat Netafim to enjoy a regular life.

"These houses were populated before the High Court's decision, because there were instances where a family lived in a house where a roof wasn't complete, so they completed it. No works have been done beyond those which were necessary to avert danger or to enable families to pass through the winter."