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Barak to Supreme Court: Postpone Razing of Heroes' Neighborhood

Defense Minister asks Supreme Court to postpone destruction of 12 homes in town of Eli. Two homes belong to fallen IDF heroes Klein and Peretz.
By Malkah Fleisher
First Publish: 4/14/2010, 9:50 PM / Last Update: 4/14/2010, 10:36 PM

Israel news file (collage)

Just two weeks before the slated destruction of 12 houses in the HaYovel neighborhood of Eli, located in the mountains of Samaria north of Jerusalem, Defense Minister Ehud Barak has petitioned the Supreme Court to postpone the destruction by six months.

According to a letter from Barak to President of the Supreme Court Dorit Beinisch, the double loss of two men from the community, whose homes are on the chopping block in HaYovel, requires "sensitive and humane treatment."

Both of the men were IDF reserve officers who fell in the line of duty. Major Roi Klein was killed in the Second Lebanon War, when he jumped on a live grenade thrown by enemy forces, saving the lives of soldiers in his brigade. He was posthumously awarded the IDF's Medal of Courage. Major Eliraz Peretz was killed on March 26 after engaging in a firefight with terrorists out of Gaza. Both of them served in the Golani Brigade. Both of their widows, and their children, live in HaYovel.

Knesset debate
Earlier Wednesday, the Knesset Committee for Children's Rights headed by Knesset member Danny Danon (Likud) held a session entitled "Injury to Children of the Yovel Neighborhood as a Result of the Supreme Court's Ruling to Destroy Their Houses." Representatives of Eli, the Education Ministry, Welfare Ministry, and Knesset Members Michael Ben-Ari and Aryeh Eldad of the National Union took part in the discussion.

Danon criticized the Defense Ministry for not taking part in the discussion, and also had words for radical leftist organization Peace Now, whose goal is to achieve Arab sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. "Peace Now announced this morning that they will not seek the destruction of two houses in the HaYovel neighborhood because they belong to IDF casualties – who crowned them as authorities?" Danon questioned. Peace Now stated they would only seek the destruction of 10 houses, not the two belonging to the war heroes, because they, like Barak, are not insensitive to the suffering of the men's families.

Kobi Eliraz, the head of the local council in Eli, said HaYovel neighborhood is completely legal, and has been a legally-approved part of the zoning plan of the larger community since the 1990s. The only thing that is missing, according to Eliraz, is the final signature by the Defense Minister. Yet up until now, the Defense Minister has neglected to sign.

The reason the community is called HaYovel (The Jubilee) is because it was built on the 50th birthday of the State of Israel. Today, 40 families live there with over 100 children of different ages.

A new game
Nurit, a mother of five who lives in the community, said the local children are playing a new game called "what will we do when they come to destroy our house". 

"I don't think the Defense Minister will want to certify the neighborhood," said MK Michael Ben-Ari.  "He would prefer to placate his far-left friends rather than do a brave act.  Therefore, responsibility rests on the Prime Minister."

MK Danon concluded by saying "time is critical. We are talking about 14 days (for the government to decide it wants to legalize the community and thereby prevent the destruction - ed.). The extreme disregard of the Defense Minister to the work of the Knesset continues. And it is my intention to take serious measures against the Defense Minister who does not send representatives to the Knesset Committee.  Also, the committee calls upon the Prime Minister to take the responsibilities of the Defense Minister and to rectify the issue of HaYovel neighborhood and Haresha (another community slated for destruction - ed.).