Despite court ruling, illegal construction rampant in Negev

The Supreme Court has ordered the demolition of dozens of illegal buildings in Bedouin townships.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Illegal villa in southern Israel
Illegal villa in southern Israel

Dozens of illegal structures in the Negev, the southern desert area of Israel, continue to stand, despite the Supreme Court ruling that Abu Basma Local Planning and Building Committee demolish the structures.

These structures in the Abu Basma Regional Council are in an illegal Bedouin area, south of Beersheva.

In 2009, Regavim petitioned the Beersheva District Court to demolish dozens of illegal structures build in the Abu Basma Regional Council, which has since been divided into two separate councils to improve governance and services for residents.

The Beersheva District Court accepted the petition and ordered the demolition of all the structures within a year.

In response, the council appealed to the Supreme Court who cancelled the allocation of time for the demolition within a year. In May 2013, the court ruled that enforcement measures should be taken against the illegal structures established in the area and strongly criticized the council’s conduct.

The Attorney General's examination of the appeals process revealed that he joined the determination of a condition of almost total enforcement of ​​the Council, while placing the responsibility on its doorstep and offering state assistance in order to implement a reasonable enforcement policy as required.

The High Court judges wrote, “The situation that was discovered is one of under-enforcement over a long period of time and in fact allowing for many violations of planning and building laws. At the same time, it is clear that in light of the limited resources available, the plaintiffs were unable to act in a comprehensive and ongoing manner against the violations of the law. The central government authorities must have provided appropriate assistance to the plaintiffs, but this has not been done.”

The ruling further stated that the council must carry out enforcement actions and regular the phenomenon of illegal construction within its boundaries.

Since the Supreme Court ruling, almost six years have elapsed. Most of the structures that were in initial stages of construction at the time of the ruling, have not been destroyed, but have been expanded and illegal construction continues in the council’s area.

Regavim sent a letter to the Attorney General and State Comptroller last week, demanding they examine the issue and take over the authority of the council that failed in its role.

Attorney Boaz Arazi stated in an appeal that it appears that except for two buildings, the dozens of structures that were discussed in the previous petition are populated and standing. Even though they remain illegal.

“This story illustrates the council’s unwillingness to enforce the law within its borders, as it explicitly stated to the court in the previous proceedings,” said Amichai Yogev, the director of the Regavim movement in the south.

“This is a bleak situation that can not exist in any local authority in the State of Israel, certainly not after a clear ruling by the Supreme Court.”