Threat to homes of fallen soldiers

The funeral of Eliraz Peretz, whose home is now slated for demolition

The funeral of Eliraz Peretz, whose home is now slated for demolition

The Israeli government will have to decide by the end of next week whether to demolish 11 illegally-built homes in the Givat Hayovel settlement on the West Bank. The defence establishment is trying to prevent the demolition, as two of the homes belong to IDF officers who were killed in combat.

In July 2009, the Supreme Court accepted a petition from Peace Now calling to demolish the homes, which were partially built on private Palestinian land. The settlers claim that Givat Hayovel is a southern suburb of the large Eli settlement and that the planning problem is a mere formality. The Supreme Court has given the government until the end of the month to explain why it has yet to carry out the demolition order.

The issue has become much more sensitive as the families on Givat Hayovel include the wives and children of two IDF majors who were killed in combat. Major Ro'i Klein was killed in Lebanon almost four years ago when he flung himself on a hand-grenade thrown at his soldiers. Major Eliraz Peretz was killed last month by Islamic Jihad fighters near Gaza.

The settlers have been running a public campaign against the demolition of their homes and even Peace Now has asked not to evacuate the two homes, but to demolish the other nine.

Defence ministry legal advisors have been trying to find a way to prevent the demolition.

Last week Defence Minister Ehud Barak wrote to the president of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch, saying that the "shock and tragedy that have hit this small community demand sensitive and humane treatment of the demolition issue".

Mr Barak asked that the court reserve its ruling for another six months, during which he hopes to find a way to legalise the buildings.

    Last updated: 1:56pm, April 22 2010