Border Police plans to destroy Arab neighborhood in J´lem (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Jonathan Lis 01/30/05)
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The Border Police is planning to demolish an Arab neighborhood in
Jerusalem to protect the separation fence built in the area.
Commander Amitai Levy, the Border Police commander of the area
enveloping Jerusalem, has announced that dozens of buildings of the
Al-Muntar neighborhood in Jerusalem´s Tzur Baher village must be torn
This follows from his decision to create a 500-meter-wide security
strip on each side of the barrier along its entire length, he said.
The residents of Al-Muntar said this week that at least 74 houses
come within 500 meters of the barrier. In the rest of the country,
the security buffer along the fence is only 50 to 80 meters wide.
Levy´s statement contradicts the instructions of Dan Tirza, a retired
colonel in charge of the security fence administration for the IDF.
Tirza permitted two architect firms hired by the residents to plan
the buildings only dozens of meters away from the fence.
Recently he ratified his decision and said it was reached in
coordination with the IDF command of the area surrounding Jerusalem.
Levy said the illegal buildings will be demolished and "if the whole
neighborhood is illegal, it must be destroyed." He also said Tirza is
not authorized to make any security decisions in the fence
region. "He is not a security authority in this region and cannot
legalize illegal buildings," he said.
The houses in Al-Muntar were built without a building permit, in the
absence of a master plan in the area. However, their owners have been
acting for years together with the Interior Ministry and Jerusalem
municipality to issue legal permits for the houses that were built.
Attorney Giat Nasser, who represents 27 Al-Muntar residents, said the
plans for the houses were made following the residents´ petition to
the High Court of Justice and on the instructions of the Jerusalem
The architects are working on a master plan for the village, which,
once approved, will render the houses legal. However, red tape is
holding up the plan´s approval, and meanwhile the residents keep
receiving demolition orders to their homes.
Although their homes are in the process of being approved, they are
forced to pay heavy fines and make efforts to persuade the courts to
withhold the demolitions.
The residents started building their houses in Al-Muntar in 1992 in
the village´s east wing, after three Jewish settlements (the
neighborhoods Har Homa, East Talpiot and Kibbutz Ramat Rahel) were
built around Tzur Baher since 1967. The residents of Tzur Baher,
which is mostly inside Jerusalem´s municipal area, said the building
in Al-Muntar results from the village´s natural growth in the only
unbuilt area left.
The residents were angry this week at Levy´s statement. "The
commander is not supposed to promote the demolition of illegal
structures. Since when do the police or Border Police interfere with
the affairs of the Jerusalem municipality or the Interior Ministry?"
The Jerusalem municipality denied the city is dragging its feet
approving the plans and said it is debating two of the plans
submitted by the residents. The Interior Ministry said, "The
Jerusalem district Planning Bureau in the ministry is handling the
residents´ calls to replan Tzur Baher´s margins." (© Copyright 2005
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