'Law and order' at Amona expulsion 2006
'Law and order' at Amona expulsion 2006Israel news photo: Flash 90

The High Court on Thursday ordered the state to dismantle the new community of Amona within two years. If the decision stands, it would be the final one in a long-running legal struggle of Amona residents to ward off the tractors of the Civil Administration, which have long been poised to demolish the community's homes.

In its decision, the Court said that despite the facts that the details of ownership of land have not yet been fully established, “the homes in Amona are built on private land and there is no way to legalize their presence. The IDF commander of Judea and Samaria must actively protect the property rights of all residents, and that includes preventing unauthorized parties from taking property that does not belong to them. Construction of homes by such parties on private land is illegal and in lieu of any other arrangement they must be torn down.”

The court, in a decision written by Chief Justice Asher Gronis, rejected claims by Amona residents that they had legally purchased the land. Even if they had, Gronis said, the homes there were built without permits or licenses from planning commissions and other legal bodies whose approval is required for construction.

“It is not with an easy conscience that we issue orders to evict people from their homes, where they have lived for many years. There is no doubt that the implications of this decision could be very serious, for the residents and their families. But despite that we cannot allow illegal building on private land, and we must require the demolishing of the homes,” Gronis added.

Amona has been the subject of a game of legal ping pong for nearly two decades, with the state alternatively seeking to build, preserve, and demolish it. Amona, in central Samaria, was established in 1995 on land that Arabs had cultivated, but had no clear ownership to. In 2004, the state ordered the demolition of nine homes that had been built on the site, and in 2006, the IDF and police came out in full force to remove residents and hundreds of protestors who hoped to halt the demolition. Over 300 people were injured, including three MKs. In an inquiry later, the Knesset decided that the police had exercised excessive force in removing the protestors