Yasuf residents denied access to their lands due to IDF support of illegal outpost

At a Supreme Court hearing today, the judges voiced strong criticism of the State's tolerance of the illegal outpost of Tapuach West, which violates the right of the residents of the village of Kafr Yasuf to freely access their private land and cultivate it.

It was the first hearing on the petition of the head of the Kafr Yasuf village council and a dozen land owners from the village to the High Court of Justice demanding they be allowed free access to their private land near the settlement of Kfar Tapuach and the unauthorized outpost of Tapuach West, to remove the obstacles that prevent their access and to realize their right to cultivate their land all year round (HCJ 9512/10). The petitioners were represented by attorney Shlomi Zachary from the legal team of the human rights organization Yesh Din.

The discussion surrounded the necessary balance between the right of the land owners from Kafr Yasuf to access their land freely and the security arrangements that derive from the very existence of the unauthorized outpost of Tapuach West, whose access road to the settlement of Kfar Tapuach is causing the access restriction.

Justice Zilbertal said during the hearing: "The situation was caused partly or mostly because of an illegal situation, which the petitioners did not create. The claim is that you must handle the illegal situation. The question is the boundaries of the violation of private property."

Deputy President Justice Naor added: “There is a difference between recognizing and tolerating (an illegal situation - H.A.). If the land owners cannot access their land, that is a situation we cannot tolerate. The balance here derives first of all from the starting point, that they are entitled to reach their lands," said Naor. “If there are lawbreakers, it is the duty of the military commander to deal with them. His job is to ensure their access, and if there are lawbreakers he must deal with them. If anyone uses violence the State must confront them. It is the State's job to maintain order."

Ahead of the hearing the State announced that the military commander had recently, following the petition, issued a closed military zone order for a large part of the area to which access requires military coordination. Therefore, a decision was made at the end of the hearing that the petitioners and representatives of the army and the settlement would visit the site together and examine the actual restrictions on access. The sides were asked to submit to the court within 60 days their updated positions about the points of contention there remain afterwards, if any.

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