Settlers Petition to Tear Down Nearby Palestinian Stadium

A West Bank settlement has filed a petition to the High Court of Justice demanding the demolition of a nearly-complete stadium in the Palestinian city of El Bireh, near Ramallah.

The Psagot settlement and the Regavim advocacy group petitioned the court on November 2 to order the defense minister, GOC Central Command, the IDF's Civil Administration and police to tear down the El Bireh stadium and three apartment buildings being constructed near the settlement. The court ordered the respondents to answer within 30 days.

The petitioners warned of the possibility that "10,000 inflamed Palestinians would rise up after a soccer game and vent their anger and/or frustration and/or frenzy on nearby Psagot. Suffice it for each one to throw 10 stones at the settlement for Psagot to be under an attack of 100,000 ballista balls."

As Haaretz reported last week, on November 1 the Civil Administration issued a final order to halt construction of the stadium, financed by FIFA - world soccer's governing body, the El Bireh municipality, Germany and France.

The stadium is in El Bireh's municipal area approved by the Israel Defense Forces in 1981, but located in Area C - defined as under total Israeli control. An Israeli contractor who built the field and fake grass field told Haaretz that the bleacher plans were at least two years old and the IDF authorities were well aware of them.

Asked why the orders to halt construction were issued after the construction was almost completed, the Civil Administration did not respond.

The petitioners, who visited the site to photograph and document the construction over the summer, reported "colossal law violations" several times in letters to the Civil Administration, the petition says.

On October 15 they were told that orders to stop the construction had been issued. The final order was issued when the petition was filed.

Regavim calls itself an "a-political movement dedicated to preserve state lands and national land resources."

Claiming that the construction was unlicensed, the petitioners accused the law enforcement authorities in the West Bank of doing nothing to stop the "impertinent, provocative law infraction."

The petitioners say Civil Administration officials told them "off the record" that their superiors have no desire, motivation or ability to enforce the law and stop the project.