A week after the razing of illegal structures which prompted a series of protests and "price tag" activities, demolished structures in Havat Gilad have been rebuilt. In addition, four new structures are being set up. Meanwhile, the government has pledged to demolish the buildings by the end of the year.
"Our Zionist response to the destruction of the country is to build immediately, not just the razed structures but several other ones," Itay Zar, Havat Gilad founder said.
But residents of the neighboring village of Jit claim that the settlers are building on privately owned Palestinian land.
"We demand that the State of Israel and security forces put a stop to the expansion of Havat Gilad," Zacharia Seda said. "Theses are farming lands which belong to the village, and the government must protect the residents and their property."
Jewish or Palestinian land? (Photo: Zacharia Seda)
Havat Gilad spokesman Yehuda Shimon dismissed the statements as "nonsense."
"There are no private Palestinian lands belonging to Jit residents in the area, and in any case all Havat Gilad lands are private Jewish lands bought by Itay Zar's father years ago," he claimed. "We have proof which the court accepted," he noted. Shimon added that construction was being performed on Jewish land only.
Jit residents claim that security forces avoid entering the area for fear of more settler protests. "We informed the Civil Administration of the settlers' activity several days ago but they do nothing to prevent this expansion," Seda said. He added that farmers can only work their land a limited number of days a year while the settlers roam the area freely.
The Civil Administration said it was still looking into the land ownership claims. It also stated that most lands in the area are private Palestinian lands. It should be noted that the settlers' construction is illegal at any case as it is without building permits.
Meanwhile, residents in the Givat Menachem outpost have also rebuilt razed structures, including a synagogue and several residential buildings.
Construction in Havat Gilad (Photo: Avi Peretz)
On Monday, the State Prosecutor's Office filed its response to a Peace Now petition to the High Court of Justice, which demands the razing of six structures in West Bank settlements.
The response says it has given orders "to remove illegal structures built on private land by the end of the year".
The Shomron and Binyamin settler committees described the State's response as "a punch in the face of the national public" and Prime Minister Netanyahu's conduct as "treacherous."
Extreme right-wing activist Itamar Ben Gvir claimed that Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch want to cause a civil war. "I dare them to raze all the illegal structures in Umm al-Fahm and Rahat," he said.
The Left wasn't too pleased with the State's response either. "Despite this important development, the government plans on legalizing most of illegal construction on state lands and presented a long-term timetable which I doubt will be implemented," Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer said. "Experience shows that in nine months the state can make up excuses to avoid evictions."
Elior Levy contributed to this report
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