Daily Israel Report

Barak Destroys Synagogue Foundations in Efrat

The foundations of a synagogues in Efrat, laid before the freeze orders were distributed, were razed today, at the order of Defense Min. Barak.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 3/11/2010, 12:41 PM / Last Update: 3/11/2010, 12:25 PM

Eli Stein

The foundations of a synagogue in Efrat, laid before construction freeze stop-work orders were distributed, were razed today, at the order of Defense Minister Barak.

Five other building starts in nearby Bat Ayin were also destroyed.

The Knesset Land of Israel Forum accused Barak of “crossing a red line” after he ordered the IDF and the Judea/Samaria Civil Administration authorities to raze synagogue foundations in the Gush Etzion city of Efrat. The forces arrived with a bulldozer in the early morning hours of Thursday and destroyed the foundations – which were built before the authorities ordered them to stop work on the structure nearly three months ago.

MKs Aryeh Eldad (National Union) and Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), co-chairmen of the Knesset Land of Israel Lobby, and the Efrat municipality condemned Barak for not acting in good faith. They noted that a request by the Efrat municipality for a special permit to continue building the structures was pending.

In addition, they said, “The Prime Minister announced when the freeze was imposed that it does not include public buildings.”

Asked if the city of Efrat is considering going to court against Barak’s arguably arbitrary destruction, Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi told Israel National News, “We’ll check with our legal department, but at present I’m still in shock at the way the forces come in at 5 AM like thieves in the night to do this deed. Where are we headed?”

Revivi explained to Israel National News, “The permit was given for the synagogue before the freeze, and after the freeze was issued, Netanyahu announced to the world that it did not include public buildings, and so we laid the foundations. We then received stop-work orders, and found that contrary to what Netanyahu had said, public buildings were not exempt. So we stopped working and submitted a request for a special exemption – and now Barak’s men come and destroy what we built.”

Revivi complained that while “Jewish construction is frozen and synagogues are razed, the Arabs continue tightening the noose all around Efrat with illegal construction on state lands that are designated for Efat – yet against this, the IDF and Civil Administration do nothing.”

MKs Elkin and Eldad stated, “Barak has crossed a red line by totally ignoring Cabinet decisions and perpetrating a midnight action destroying a synagogue in Gush Etzion, which is the heart of national consensus – and in total opposition to the Prime Minister’s declaration.”            

The Lobby chairmen appeared to suffice with a “call to the Prime Minister to restrain the Defense Minister, who is acting with political and cynical motivations to destroy the Jewish settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria.”

Earlier this week, the IDF destroyed a building in Yakir in the Shomron, a shack in the Shvut Ami outpost near Kedumim, and the foundations of a new structure in Sal’it, in the western Shomron.