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Barak: 9 Ofra Homes will Not Be Vacated or Cut Off from Power

In a statement to the High Court, Defense Minister says he will not order the eviction of residents from homes in Ofra that Arabs say are illegal.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 3/22/2009, 7:34 PM

Flash 90

Defense Minister Ehud Barak informed the High Court Sunday that he has decided not to evict the residents of nine homes in Ofra, nor will he have the homes cut off from water, electricity and sewage infrastructures or razed at the present time.

In a statement to the court, the Defense Minister noted that the temporary order given by the court in June of 2008 instructed the State not to populate the structures or make use of them, but it did not instruct the State to evict residents or cut off infrastructures.

Barak said that the houses in Ofra, located 11 miles north of Jerusalem, will be dealt with “as part of the overall approach to illegal construction in Judea and Samaria” and that he has given instructions for strict enforcement of the law regarding construction in Ofra from now on.

The grassroots Binyamin Residents’ Council said Sunday that Barak’s message to the court was “an encouraging sign that the Defense Ministry will, from now on, cease giving in to pressure from the extreme anti-Zionist Left which has been systematically trying to break and shatter the Zionist vision in recent years.”

The High Court case regards a motion filed in June 2008 by pro-Arab groups “Yesh Din” and “B’tselem” together with five Arabs from the village of Ein Yabrud who claim to be the owners of land in Ofra. The petitioners asked that the construction of nine houses – which they claimed were being built on their land – be stopped.

Two weeks later, High Court Judge Edmond Levy signed a temporary order forbidding Ofra from continuing to build and populate the structures. He also instructed the police and the IDF’s Civilian Administration to enforce the order.