HCJ 1486/12 Izzat As’ad Rasheed Sawan v the Minister of Defense

In 2010 a resident of the village of Ammatin noticed that two structures belonging to the unauthorized outpost of Havat Gilad were built illegally on his land. The Civil Administration issued demolition orders for the structures, but they were not carried out. At the time the Civil Administration notified Yesh Din that “the matter of the timing of enforcement of the orders will be carried out, as you are aware, based on the current priorities for enforcement.”

In 2012, the landowners petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ), with the assistance of Yesh Din to ask the Court instruct the State to enforce the demolitions orders for the structures. The petition states that “this petition is submitted having no other choice and in real time, based on the understanding that unless the honorable Court intervenes, the fate of the petitioner’s land will be identical to that of other plots located inside the boundaries of the illegal and unauthorized outpost of Havat Gilad.

Regarding the Civil Administration’s term “priorities,” the petition states “regarding law enforcement measures against the illegal construction work in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, [this term] means that ‘the demolition orders will be carried out upon approval from the political echelon;’ in other words, ‘never.’”

The petition insisted that the two Israeli government reports – the Sasson and Spiegel reports both referred to Havat Gilad as an unauthorized outpost and prove that “the information regarding the lawlessness of the outpost and everything constructed in it is known to [the minister of defense] and decision makers for many years, but apparently they preferred to do absolutely nothing about these offenses.”

After the petition was submitted, the State undertook to enforce the demolition orders and demolish the two structures. Responding to the order nisi issued by the Court, the State Attorney announced that the structures in question were removed or demolished by the settlers themselves and cleared. The demolition of the structures was done as part of an agreement with the residents of Havat Gilad, according to which efforts would be made to retroactively authorize the outpost. The State Attorney also admitted that two additional illegal structures were built on the land in question, however claimed that they are not part of the petition. Later on, negotiations were held and one structure was demolished, while the other was transferred into the outpost.

Parallel to petitioning the HCJ, the landowner filed complaints with the Israel Police regarding the two first illegal structures, but the police closed the investigations on the grounds of “offender unknown.” In 2013, as the trespassers’ identification was revealed, Yesh Din demanded the police reopen the investigation. In February 2015, the police notified it once again closed the case.

Petition Status: The petition was dismissed after the structures were demolished. The HCJ ruled court expenses totaling NIS 10,000 in favor of Yesh Din.