High Court freezes Givat Ze'ev synagogue demolition

Defense Ministry places caravan at site ahead of expected demolition of Ayelet HaShachar - which could begin Tuesday.

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Tova Dvorin, | updated: 09:57

Temporary structure for Ayelet HaShachar
Temporary structure for Ayelet HaShachar
Defense Ministry

The High Court postponed the demolition of the Ayelet HaShachar synagogue in Givat Ze'ev Tuesday, following an urgent request from the State of Israel to postpone the destruction amid the controversy surrounding the move. 

On Sunday, representatives of the government - headed by Ministers Moshe Ya'alon, Naftali Bennett and Aryeh Deri - the Givat Ze'ev Regional Council head, the synagogue's rabbi, and a representative of the synagogue's congregants reached a compromise over the demolition, in which a new building was promised to the synagogue within three months and a temporary structure provided. 

Another meeting Monday with all parties involved yielded an agreement for the synagogue to be evicted peacefully, and for all the constituents to leave of their own will - and to ensure that every object had been removed from the building. To this end, the date for demolition was set for Thursday - with no postponements allowed later than some 3 weeks from now, December 10, 2015. A security detail will be posted to the site 24/7 until the demolition ends, ensuring no one can enter the building. 

Before the High Court accepted the ruling, the Defense Ministry placed a temporary structure for the synagogue close to the site overnight Monday/Tuesday, in coordination with the Givat Ze'ev Regional Council. 

"The temporary synagogue was placed in a public area nearby; the Givat Ze'ev Regional Council received a building permit [for it]," the Defense Ministry stated early Tuesday. "After connecting the electricity, sewage and water, the synagogue's Torah scrolls we be moved there, and the structure will be opened for worship." 

Credit: Defense Ministry

Religious leaders, congregants, MKs, and Israelis across the country protested against the demolition of the synagogue, which despite being built over 20 years ago was slated for demolition after a petition from extremist leftist group Yesh Din.

The group claims that the structure had been build on privately-owned Palestinian Arab land, but congregants say they have proof they purchased it legally, and note the alleged Arab "owner" has yet to emerge. Public officials have rallied behind the synagogue and called to save it, stating that sends the wrong message to Israelis over the character of the Jewish state.