NGO cries foul after Jewish vineyard uprooted – but nearby illegal mosque left intact

The watchdog group Regavim, which monitors illegal construction in the Arab sector, noted that Jews are singled out for Disruptive Land-Use Orders.

By World Israel News Staff

Israeli authorities uprooted a Jewish-owned vineyard in Samaria last week, in compliance with a Supreme Court ruling issued in response to a petition by a group of Palestinian Arabs.

The vineyard, planted four years ago by a resident of the Samaria town of Yitzhar just outside of the community, was destroyed under a Disruptive Land-Use Order issued by the court despite the fact that the Arab petitioners had not proven ownership over the land in question.

The watchdog group Regavim, which monitors illegal construction in the Arab sector, noted that Jews are singled out for Disruptive Land-Use Orders.

“This unique military order allows removal of agriculture, even when no conflicting claim of ownership is submitted or proven – and is used by the Civil Administration exclusively against Jews.”

In a statement released Monday morning, Regavim also highlighted the fact that the Civil Administration has thus far refused to carry out a demolition order against an illegal mosque in the nearby town of Burin – some 300 yards away from the demolished vineyard.

While the government has pledged to the court to enforce the demolition order, which is now over 15 years old, additional illegal construction has been reported around the mosque.

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“The Regavim Movement appealed to the High Court of Justice to force the Civil Administration to enforce the demolition order, and the government gave its solemn commitment to uphold the law – but the illegal mosque stands, undisturbed, to this very day – and dozens of additional illegal structures have been built around it in the interim,” Regavim said.

The Civil Administration, a department within the Defense Ministry, has been placed under the authority of Minister in the Defense Ministry Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionist Party), rather than Defense Minister Yoav Galant (Likud).

Regavim called on Smotrich to end the Civil Administration’s discriminatory policies and to enforce demolition orders against illegal Arab structures.

“The Disruptive Land-Use Order is a draconian measure that has been applied in a wildly discriminatory fashion, and should be struck down without delay. This was the conclusion reached years ago by the Special Commission headed by Justice Edmond Levy, and we call upon Minister Smotrich to take this long-overdue step,” the NGO stated.

Moshe Shmueli, the Regavim field coordinator for Judea and Samaria, demanded equality in the Civil Administration’s application of the law.

“For 15 years, the Civil Administration has failed to enforce the law against nearby illegal Palestinian construction – despite its commitment to the High Court of Justice. On the other hand, it has taken swift, even brutal enforcement action and uprooted a Jewish vineyard, costing the owners hundreds of thousands of shekels in losses.

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“The rule of law must be equal, or it cannot be called the rule of law. This morning’s demolition is one more example of how far off track the Civil Administration has strayed.”