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      Court Orders Government to Dismantle, Rebuild Fence

      The High Court condemed the state for failing to fulfill an order from three years ago demanding that portions of the security fence be dismantled.
      By David Lev
      First Publish: 10/6/2009, 9:51 PM / Last Update: 10/7/2009, 7:00 AM

      israel news photo: archive

      The High Court issued a sharp condemnation of the State and ordered it to pay NIS 20,000 ($5,400) in court costs, for failing to fulfill a court order from three years ago demanding that portions of the security fence near the yishuv of Tzufim in Samaria be dismantled. The total cost of moving the sections of the fence in question will exceed $10 million, experts said.

      The original court decision three years ago was made in response to a petition by residents of the Arab villages of Azzun and Nabi Elias located in the area, demanding that the eastern section of the fence, which in some places was built on land belonging to the villages, be dismantled.

      The petition, first brought over four years ago, said that the sections of the fence were not built for security concerns, but in order to expand the Jewish town of Tzufim, which is east of Kalkilya. In addition, the villages complained that farmers were unable to get to land inside the fence, as the state had committed to enable them to do when the fence was first built.

      The state, which had defended the need for the location of fence, did a sudden about-face, agreeing to dismantle portions of the fence around Tzufim and promising to do it within six months. Following the State's change of heart, the court issued an order demanding that the fence be dismantled when the case was concluded three years ago.

      However, the Arab villages complained to the court that the State has dragged its feet on fulfilling the original court order. Attorneys for the Arab villages accused the State of "shaming the court by refusing to fulfill its orders." Only then was any action taken to begin dismantling the fence, a project that is still ongoing.

      The court agreed with the Arab villages and on Tuesday reiterated its demand that the fence be dismantled immediately and rebuilt closer to the existing "building line" (the last row of houses currently in existence) in Tzufim.

      At issue are some 650 (160 acres) dunams of land owned by local Arabs. The portion of the fence in question is about five kilometers long. According to experts, the cost for construction of the security fences is approximately $2 million per kilometer.