Prayer Rally to Save Samaria Town from Destruction

Residents charge government with betraying promise to recognize Givat Assaf, most of which is legally registered.

Oranit Etzer, Ari Yashar ,

Givat Assaf prayer rally (file)
Givat Assaf prayer rally (file)
Flash 90

A prayer rally will be held on Tuesday in Givat Assaf, located near Beit El in Samaria, in a call to save the small community from destruction by the government.

A letter organizing the rally was sent to residents, and warned of impending demolition despite the declarations by the government that it would work to recognize the community officially - something that legal experts say it can do easily, since dozens of dunams of land in the town are legally registered under the names of residents in the state land registry.

The residents note that in May, they agreed to dismantle four buildings that were built outside the area of acquired land; another family was expelled by force after refusing to evacuate its home.

The state action against the town follows petitions by the far-left group Peace Now seven years ago, claiming that the communities were built on Arab-owned land. Residents have argued the land was not privately owned, meaning the state could legalize the town, but still has not done so, leading the High Court for Justice to rule for the demolition of the town. 

Residents received an extension of three months to request that buildings on the tract of land purchased by the community be added to the land registry. Those buildings include three separate structures, housing 28 people.

State "betrayal"

In a court discussion two weeks ago, a representative of the state told judges that the community can not be recognized, because two of its buildings are on land under Palestinian Arab ownership, and that a third is too small to be recognized as a residence.

Givat Assaf residents argue the declaration was a breach of government promises to recognize the town, and gives the High Court a free hand to work to demolish the entire community. Backing their appraisal, they note the judges chose to wait on demolishing the three homes for an additional decision on the case, leaving the possibility of a wider destruction.

Given the recent legal history of such cases in the High Court, legal experts predict a ruling to destroy the community may be given in the coming weeks.

Residents are calling on the government to keep its promises to recognize the community and inform the Supreme Court of that recognition, and to remove the demolition orders on the buildings.

The state representative's declaration that the three buildings can not be recognized comes amid a covert building freeze for Jews in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and amid a national housing crisis.

Many have argued the harsh moves to demolish Jewish communities contradicts sharply with governmental policy on illegal Arab building.

Jerusalem Councilman Arieh King recently revealed to Arutz Sheva that over 40,000 illegal Arab housing units exist in the capital alone, and another 700-800 are built each year; since the beginning of 2014, a paltry 14 illegal Arab housing units have been destroyed.



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