HCJ 2759/09 v Qaryut village council head v the Minister of Defense

In early 2009, residents of the village of Qaryut in the Nablus area noticed that a road had been paved on their land to connect the settlement of Eli and the unauthorized outpost of Hayovel. Residents of the village quickly petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) with the assistance of Yesh Din to prevent the road from becoming a fait accompli. The petition stated, “Again it has become evident, as in many cases of illegal construction by [Israeli] settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, that the law enforcement authorities humiliate themselves and us by issuing orders they have no intention of enforcing; paving a road in this location, despite being illegal, continues apace and undisturbed. In the case in question, the construction work is being carried out under the noses of the law enforcement authorities, and no one says a word, everyone remains silent, they are playing ostrich and shirking their responsibilities – this, despite the fact that the authorities are made aware in real time.”

The petition insisted on the military commander’s duty to protect the residents of Qaryut, who are protected persons in a territory under belligerent occupation, as well as to protect their property – an obligation anchored in international law and Supreme Court rulings. A few days after the petition was submitted, the Court issued an interim order prohibiting any construction work on the road, but the work continued anyway.

Two years later, the Court issued an order instructing the State to explain why the road, which was built in part on survey land and in part on state land, is not demolished. It also issued an order instructing the State to explain why steps are not taken against those violating the interim order. A police investigation was opened as a result, but then closed on grounds of lack of evidence.

The petition was heard with a separate petition filed by Peace Now demanding houses built in the unauthorized outposts of Harsha and Hayovel be demolished. In its response to the Court, the State claimed that it is working towards retroactively authorizing the outposts and the illegal construction in them. Ultimately, however, the State determined that it was impossible to declare some of the land in Hayovel – on which the road was paved – state land. The State Attorney added that the State intends to enforce the demolition orders on the road and some of the structures addressed by the second petition in accordance with its priorities, which were presented to the Court.

In August 2014, the High Court instructed to demolish the parts of the road paved on land that cannot be declared State land within a year of the ruling. The justices wrote in the ruling: “Unfortunately, experience teaches that the State does not meet the deadlines set for implementing court rulings regarding the removal of houses or roads in Judea and Samaria. We often are confronted with requests for extensions, which are at times submitted at the last minute, accompanied by an explanation that for this or that reason, the State did not have the resources to carry out the judicial order. Failing to secure alternatives for those holding the land is not grounds for an extension.”

According to media reports published in March 2016, 235 roads were paved illegally in the West Bank, however the cases of illegal construction that were opened as a result were not addressed for years – until they were sent to the bottom of the list of cases to be handled by the Civil Administration.

Petition Status: Dismissed after the Court’s ruling was carried out.