Supreme Court Orders NIS 100,000 Fine for Illegal Building

Israel's Supreme Court on Thursday imposed a NIS 100,000 fine on construction companies building apartments in the Matityahu East despite a temporary injunction forbidding them to do so.

Gil Zohar, | updated: 19:54

The decision regarding the mostly hareidi settlement of Upper Modi'in in Samaria is considered relatively severe, due both to the fact that the Supreme Court rarely imposes punishment and to the large amount the companies are being instructed to pay.

The Supreme Court ordered construction temporarily frozen roughly one year ago, due to the fact that the neighborhood was being built on private Arab land. Part of the construction was being conducted without any authorization whatsoever, while the rest was being carried out as part of an illegal master plan approved by the Upper Modi'in Council.

Supreme Court Justice Ayala Procaccia ruled that the companies ignored the court's temporary injunction and began building a new road in the neighborhood.

Madame Justice Procaccia stressed that the construction of the road not only violates the injunction but also violates construction and planning laws, which require a valid construction plan and permit.

According to Procaccia, given the circumstances of the deliberations on this issue, the violation is of "especially severe proportions."

"The imposition of significant expenses to the benefit of the state treasury will send a message that will deter further violations of the law at the site," wrote Procaccia. "At the same time, we must allow the construction of an alternate access route to the residents of Haftziva B, in a manner that will provide for the needs of the resident population, which deserves the minimal conditions of welfare and convenience."

Justices Eliezer Rivlin and Miriam Naor participated in the ruling. The judges imposed a total fine of NIS 60,000 on the companies Green Mount and Green Park, and an additional fine of NIS 40,000 on Haftziva Construction and Development.

According to reports in the Israeli media, the new neighborhood is being built on the private land of the Palestinian village Bil'in. The land was purchased by land dealers through dubious powers of attorney, then rezoned as state land and leased or sold to settlers' building companies.

The construction of the separation fence prompted the purchasers to implement their "rights" by hastily fixing facts on the ground.

"Peace Now," which petitioned the Supreme Court on the issue, is demanding that all of the buildings that were built illegally be demolished. During an earlier deliberation on the petition, the justices had raised the possibility of ordering Haftzina and Green Park to return the money of those who purchased the apartments.

In the past year, Upper Modi'in with a population of 34,514 became the largest settlement in Judea and Samaria, exceeding Ma'ale Adumim just east of Jerusalem which for decades was the largest new town built in the land Israel liberated in the 1967 Six Day War.

Maaleh Adumim has 33,259 residents, followed by Betar Illit with 29,355 people, and Ariel with 17,723.