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Govt. may Legalize Hero's 'Unauthorized' Home after Outcry

Defense officials may react to public outcry over the planned destruction of a war hero's 'unauthorized' home by legalizing the building.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 10/3/2010, 6:14 PM / Last Update: 10/3/2010, 6:25 PM

Flash 90

Facing public opposition to the planned destruction of fallen officer Major Eliraz Peretz, the Defense Ministry may legalize the building, according to a senior official quoted by the Hebrew-language daily Maariv. The home is located in the Hayovel neighborhood of Eli, in Samaria.

Previously, officials had indicated that they would refrain from destroying another home in the neighborhood, which belongs to the family of fallen officer Major Ro'i Klein, but would continue with plans to demolish the Peretz family home, which now houses Peretz's widow and the couple's four young children.

In order to legalize Peretz's home, the Defense Ministry would need to expropriate some land, and would provide payment in exchange. In the case of the Hayovel neighborhood the process would be simple, as no specific PA Arab has claimed ownership of the land. In cases where the land is owned by a person whose identity is known, that person can file suit against the expropriation.

Activists on the far left of Israel's political spectrum had joined with Palestinian Authority Arabs in claiming Arab ownership of part of the land on which Hayovel was built. The state found that most of the land in question was in fact state land, but the courts asked  the state to explain why it has not demolished buildings anyway after finding that a small part of the land was once cultivated by Arabs, although none have brought proof or claims of ownership.

Several similar cases have occurred in Judea and Samaria, where left-wing groups have filed suit after Jewish neighborhoods are completed, claiming that previously unused land is actually privately owned by PA Arabs.

The Hayovel neighborhood was built in 1998, and was named in honor of Israel's fiftieth year. In Biblical Law, every fiftieth year is a Yovel (jubilee) year in the Land of Israel, in which all land reverts to its original owners and Hebrew slaves are freed.

The small neighborhood has known tragedy on several occasions. In 2002 two of the neighborhood's founders, 29-year-old Avi Wolanski and his wife Avital, who was pregnant, were murdered by PA terrorists as they drove down Highway 60. Their three-year old son was wounded in the attack; a second child escaped without injury.

In 2006, neighborhood resident Major Ro'i Klein was killed fighting Hizbullah terrorists during the Second Lebanon War. Klein died after throwing himself on a grenade to save his soldiers in an act of bravery that earned him national renown.