Daily Israel Report

Minister Demands Eviction Procedures Be Regulated

Minister Zevulun Orlev demanded security officials implement procedures for evictions that minimize the risk to children.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 12/20/2011, 9:13 PM

Minister of Welfare and Human Services Zevulun Orlev on Tuesday demanded the government formalize the procedure for executing demolition and eviction orders in Judea and Samaria.

"There is united cross-party coalition support that we must regulate the procedure for evictions when it is decided to proceed when children are present," Orlev told a meeting of the Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child, which he chairs.

During the discussion Orlev said, "The Internal Security Ministry sought to postpone this hearing. I agreed to cancel the hearing on condition I receive a commitment in writing it would institute procedural regulations governing all evictions."

"I am deeply concerned given that in previous evictions there has been a systemic use of full-scale assaults on homes, often where there are vulnerable children at risk. This committee views its role to protect the children, and minimize the trauma they endure as their homes are destroyed, very seriously," Orlev said.

Orlev told Arutz Sheva that the "Ministry of Public Security is not suitably concerned about the potential of a child being fatally injured or abused. Our duty is to ensure the rights and interests of the child are protected."

Avital Geffen of Migron addressed the committee with her newborn in her arms, "This month-old baby was separated from me on the night of the evacuation from Migron and has not returned to nurse since. A three-year old child who was weaned now needs a pacifier. And my older children have started wetting their beds again."

Itai Harel, present when the Migron evictions took place, told the committee, "Security smashed into a home from four directions with no warning at 4 am - the home of a police officer, a fellow officer. Where was the threat necessitating such a move? They took two weeks old baby from his mother!"

"There are almost 100,000 technically illegal structures in Israel. Can all of those people live on constant alert fearing the police may raid their home in the dead of night? They have no rights?" Harel added.

Orit Strook, chairman of the Yesha Human Rights Organization, said "Last week there were several warnings that the forces were on the move inside Benjamin. Everyone panicked. People woke grandparents and asked them to take their chidlren. You can not live like that every time there is movement of forces in the region."

"Israeli security forces refuse to give notice before eviction, even though there is seldom resistance. Nor do they ever achieve the surprise they say their refusal is designed to protect. The number of leaks whenever forces move means we always know when someone is being evicted."

"You might as well call and inform us it will be us so that we can remove our children, our grandchildren," Strook added. "Better that than be woken up in the night when men dressed in black smash in through the windows and attack them."

Noa Weinstock from the Public Security Ministry told Arutz Sheva, "The ministry understands importance of formal procedures. We are trying to formulate a procedure for future demolitions and evictions. We are very concerned, but the Ministry of Defence refuses to cooperate."

The involvement of police is a particular difficulty," Weinstock explained, noting Army commanders make all tactical decisions when demolition orders are carried out. "The army seeks police assistance for evictions, but we do not set the time-table or deal with notifications."

"The police department is only an ancillary support element," Weinstock added.

Last week Minister without Portfolio Benny Begin negotiated an agreement wherein the community of Ramat Gilad would be moved several dozen meters and recognized as a part of the community of Karnei Shomron in lieu of demolition.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, however, rejected the deal – and raced to destroy the community in the night. The move led to a riot by angry Jewish youth in the region at the headquarters of the Ephraim Brigade, tasked with executing the order.

Officials at the Defense Ministry refused to comment on their refusal to cooperate with Police in implementing normal procedures for carrying out such operations in Judea and Samaria.

Civil rights observers in Israel note that delivering eviction and demolition notices with specific execution dates – usually at least a month in advance – are the norm in the civilized world.

Nor, they add, are pre-dawn paramilitary assaults accepted means of carrying out such orders in enlightened countries unless violent resistance is offered after officers arrive to execute the order in a normal, peaceable manner.

Israel's security forces in Judea and Samaria have made systemic use of such tactics when evicting Jewish families from their homes.