Ofra residents protest near PM's office

Schools in Ofra launch strike over planned demolitions in community as residents protest in Jerusalem.

Shimon Cohen ,

Ofrah residents outside PM's office
Ofrah residents outside PM's office
Hezki Baruch

The residents of the town of Ofra in Samaria launched demonstration outside a cabinet meeting taking place in Jerusalem Tuesday morning. Demonstrators are calling upon the government to normalize the status of homes slated for demolition both inside Ofra and in towns across Judea and Samaria like the neighboring community of Amona.

Protesters brought their children, highlighting the fact that Ofra schools have declared a one-day strike as part of the broader protest.

Community leaders emphasized that they are not looking for a localized solution for their community but rather for a historic and imperative solution for the entire range of communities in Judea and Samaria whose legal status is unclear. Due to this situation the high court has not offered a solution which enables these communities and houses to remain in their place but has demanded time and time again to destroy houses and evacuate residents who have been living in these places for decades.

Rabbi Avi Gisser, rabbi of Ofrah, said to Arutz Sheva that the demonstration "would continue until something changes. The goal is - 50 years have passed since we received the great and historic gift which cannot be underestimated - Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Yet these are 50 years of the greatest neglect in which Israeli governments, including the present right-wing one, did not provide even the most minimal infrastructure for Jewish communal development. Everything is done airily with no legal foundation which enables Jews who live in Judea and Samaria to be legal residents of the place. At present no resident of Judea and Samaria is entitled to the protection of the courts and we are deemed to be trespassers."

Rav Gisser noted that the reason for this attitude of the legal establishment towards residents stems from the fact that the Levy committee's recommendations (to normalize communities in Judea and Samaria) which were supposed to provide a legal basis for construction in Judea and Samaria were never adopted or implemented by the government and the Levy report which demanded that Israel stake a claim as a legal claimant to Judea and Samaria and not just as an occupier or trespasser was never implemented.

"If you are a trespasser you have no rights, if you are the owner you have the appropriate legal rights. Today nothing can be established in Judea and Samaria except for the benefit of Palestinians. This is the rule governing all the courts in Israel. One can argue with the courts but the blame is attached to the legal definitions and these are the government's responsibility."