Official Working in West Bank: Israel Soft on Settlement Building Violations

Deputy director of the Civil Administration supervision unit, says enforcement of building violations largely limited to tin shacks and tents.

Government enforcement of building violations in West Bank settlements is largely limited to tin shacks and tents rather than more important permanent structures, according to a senior official in the Civil Administration.

The official, Rami Ziv, who serves as deputy director of the administration's supervision unit, made the remarks in a newsletter published in the settlement of Peduel, where he resides.

Demolished synagogue West Bank - Moti Milrod
Moti Milrod

The enforcement unit of the Civil Administration, which comes under the auspices of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT ) in the Defense Ministry, deals with enforcement of planning and construction regulations in the field, protection of nature and other matters.

Ziv has been the target in recent years of a campaign by Meharsayich, a group organized by residents of the settlement of Yitzhar against government officials who are involved in demolition work in the settlements. Group activists have demonstrated at the Peduel synagogue that Ziv attends.

The head of COGAT, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, recently urged West Bank settlement leaders to come to Ziv's defense and head off further demonstrations against him in Peduel. Flyers attacking Ziv were circulated last week at several West Bank settlements by the group Derech Haim. The flyers noted that Ziv had submitted an affidavit to the High Court of Justice in which he presented data about the operations of his supervision unit, which showed that the number of structures demolished in Jewish areas of the West Bank exceeded the number in Palestinian areas, despite the fact that the incidence of building violations was higher among the Palestinians.

The chairman of Derech Haim, Yehoshua Hess, who is a resident of Yitzhar, said: "We have seen that many of those dealing with the destruction of Jewish homes, particularly in the Civil Administration supervision unit, are Jews living in settlements in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and living a religious lifestyle. On one hand, in practice, they are harming and destroying the [settlement] communities, and on the other hand, they are getting a high quality communal life in these same Judea and Samaria communities."

After the flyers were circulated, Ziv decided to publish a letter in the Peduel newsletter spelling out his position, which was later published online. In the letter, he explained that the structures being destroyed are not significant. The "Hakol Hayehudi" website quoted him as writing: "The vast majority of [the structures] are not permanent houses but tents, sheds, tin shacks, temporary structures, light structures that in many cases are not occupied and are in one stage or another of construction." He added that it is not up to him to decided which structures are demolished, but rather, these decisions are taken by the elected government. .

"I see myself as loyal to the Torah of Israel, the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, and act according to the principles required by such loyalty," he wrote.