(HCJ 9015/15 Mohammad Mustafa Ismail Mahana v Commander of IDF forces in the West Bank)

In 1978, the military commander issued seizure orders T20/78, T 26/80 and 3/84, which authorized the IDF to seize dozens of dunams of private land from the Palestinian villages Mikhmas and Deir Dobwan, in the district of Ramallah in the West Bank. The seizure orders from 1978 were followed by additional orders in 1980 and 1984.

According to international law, military seizure is only legal for imperative military needs. It does not constitute expropriation, and when there is no longer a military necessity, the land is supposed to be returned to its owners. The IDF built a military outpost on a small part of the seized land, but it was evacuated and for years no use was made of the land.

The first seizure order on the village land was issued before the High Court ruled in the Elon Moreh case and banning the practice common in the 1970s of seizing land for military needs to build Israeli settlements. The orders from that period did not specify when they were to expire.

In April 2015, with the assistance of Yesh Din, the residents of the villages addressed the military commander (GOC Central Command) and the attorney general. “Since there is no need or justification for military seizure of these lands, seizure which is by nature temporary, they should be returned to their original owners.” Eight months later, with still no reply from the military commander, the landowners were forced to petition the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to ask the seizure orders be revoked.

In a rare turn of events, in February 2016, the State announced the seizure order was revoked and the land returned to its owners, and as such the petition was rendered unnecessary.

Petition Status: The petition was withdrawn.