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IDF ordered to dismantle barrier on Route 317
Rabbis for Human Rights
28 July 2007
The High Court ordered the Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday to dismantle the concrete barrier along the main road in the South Hebron Hills (317) within two weeks. It gave the IDF a week to destroy the barrier, and a further week to remove its remains from the road.
The order comes one day after the court severely criticized the IDF and the State for deliberately dragging their feet on the implementation of an earlier ruling to dismantle the barrier within 6 months. )Which have long since passed.) Supreme Court Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch instructed the army to implement a ruling made in December 2006, which required the army to remove within six months a low concrete barrier running along Route 317, south of Hebron.
The army argued that the 82 centimeter high barrier stretching for 41 kilometers was built for security purposes. The residents and human rights organizations appealed to the High Court, arguing that the real purpose of the barrier was to prevent foot travel east of the road by local Palestinians in order to give control of the area to settlers. This would get around the high court`s decision changing the route of the Separation Barrier in the area which originally would have left vast tracts of land on the `Israeli` side. The judges accepted the opinion submitted by Colonel (Res.) Shaul Arieli of the Council for Peace and Security arguing that there was no security value to this low barrier and that it would also worsen security by providing cover to terrorists. The Court said the army is allowed come up with other security measures, but can not delay the removal of the barrier any longer.
The 2006 ruling came in response to petitions filed by Rabbis for Human Rights and ACRI, along with Arab inhabitants of nearby villages.
On Monday Beinisch said that the IDF deliberately delayed implementing the 2006 ruling. This was after the court reexamined the issue, following complaints by petitioners that the state had not carried out the court`s instructions.
`The court ruled to remove the wall. This is no way to treat the court,` Beinisch told the state prosecutors. `The state issued an order on the matter. Why was it not followed? I am struggling to understand the method that you chose to pursue.`
Justice Ayala Procaccia added that `if this is how the state treats court rulings, what can we expect from the ordinary citizen? What message are you interested in sending here?`
According to petitioners, the smaller concrete wall was set up to obstruct Palestinian shepherds from crossing the road with their herds of livestock. The petitioners claim this was done to keep the area east of Route 317 under the control of Jewish settlers.
The court rejected the state`s claims that the barrier was meant to protect drivers and prevent them from sliding off the road, and gave the army six months to dismantle it. The court added that the state could find alternative solutions, but only after the barrier was dismantled.
However, 48 hours before the six-month period the court had afforded it to dismantle the wall, the state requested an extension, explaining it had come up with an alternative solution. This solution had in fact already been rejected by the court: The defense establishment proposed to put gaps in the wall at fixed intervals of 200 meters.
Meanwhile, the petitioners requested that the court hold the state in contempt for failing to meet the court`s deadline for removing the wall. The court is expected to rule on the matter today. Sources who are involved in the case said they expected the court to order the state to destroy the wall immediately.
Surprisingly, adviser to former defense minister Peretz, Hagai Alon, who sided with the calls to dismantle the wall, said, `This unnecessary barrier cost hundreds of millions of shekels that came out of the budget for no reason, because the IDF tried to cite security needs to explain a political move,` he said.
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