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Peace Now: Israel Defense Force Carried Out Only 3% of Settlement Demolition Orders

Nadav Shragai

The Israel Defense Forces Civil Administration carried out only three percent of its own demolition orders for illegal construction in West Bank settlements over the past ten years, according to a Peace Now report published Tuesday.1204 05According to the report, from 1997-2007 the Civil Administration issued 3449 demolition orders for illegally built structures in the settlements and settlement outposts, but evacuated and demolished only 107 of them, the report stated.

The report, issued at a Jerusalem press conference Tuesday, was based on statistics provided by the Civil Administration, after Peace Now petitioned the High Court of Justice on the basis of the Freedom of Information Law.

"Among the construction violators: industrial companies, cellular companies, public officials, and the IDF," the report stated, adding that the largest amount of "illegal construction was carried out in Ofra and Beit El."

Over half of the cases of illegal construction -1887 files ? involve construction inside the settlements themselves, while 1554 cases involve construction in the illegal settlement outposts.

According to Peace Now, the Civil Administration no longer enforces construction laws inside the settlements' official municipal boundaries, due to a 1998 directive from the IDF Central Command. Peace Now said "the significance is that the number of construction violations inside the settlements is much higher then the number provided by [Civil Administration] statistics."

According to the report, "the leader in illegal construction cases is the settlement of Ofra, with 196 cases of illegal construction, followed by the settlement of Beit El with 107 cases. Bruchin heads the list of outposts with 104 cases, followed by Shvut Rachel with 98, and then Migron with 75 and Hayovel with 62 cases. The Binyamin area (near Ramallah) is the area with the largest number of illegal construction cases."

A significant portion of the demolition orders were addressed to the settlement or regional council in which they were built, and at times to local and regional councils' "development companies."

"This statistic is evidence of the regional councils' extensive role in illegal construction in the territories," the report said.

Some of the orders are addressed to the company or private individual who built the illegal structure, including cellular phone companies such as Orange, Cellcom, and Pelephone. The IDF itself also violated construction laws, and a case was opened against the military for work conducted near Beit Omer in November 2002. According to Civil Administration records, the "case was closed."

Some 72 percent of the demolition orders were issued for construction carried out east of the West Bank fence, in no small part due to the fact that 80 percent of the illegal settlement outposts are situated east of the fence.

© 2007 Haaretz

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