Photo Credit: courtesy Regavim
Illegal structures on state land

Seven years after the illegal seizure of State land, and after numerous petitions submitted by Regavim, the Israel Land Authority has begun to take action against a family that has been squatting on state land near Beit Hananya, adjacent to Israel’s Coastal Highway.

Seven years ago, Abed Muslam Najaar, and the family of Atta Mansur Najaar illegally occupied land adjacent to Beit Hananya in the Hof HaCarmel Regional Municipality – land that is registered to the Israel Land Authority. The squatters fenced in the tract of land, and built barns, sheds, and storage structures – all without permits of any kind.

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Two years ago, Regavim submitted a complaint to the ILA and demanded that steps be taken to investigate and enforce laws that prohibit encroachment on state land and illegal construction. After filing three separate complaints and receiving no response, and as a result of the Municipality’s failure to take action against the squatters, Regavim took the matter to court.

In August 2017, Regavim petitioned the Supreme Court to issue an ‘order nisi‘ against the Israel Land Authority, in light of its ongoing failure to enforce the law against squatters on state land – a problem described by Justice Rubinstein as a “national scourge of epidemic proportions.”

As a result of Regavim’s lawsuit, Keren Kayemet l’Yisrael (JNF-KKL) and the ILA recently served indictments against the squatters, requiring them to remove all structures and fences from the land and pay seven years’ of fees for the illegal use of the land on which they had been squatting. The squatters were further required to restore the plot of land to its original condition.

After the indictments were filed, Regavim agreed to withdraw its Supreme Court lawsuit. Chief Justice Esther Hayut, who presided over the hearings, is expected to hand down a judgement regarding reimbursement of legal fees in the near future.

“The fact that a governmental authority is enforcing the law and protecting the rights of the citizens of Israel only because of the active involvement of a private NGO is unreasonable,” said Boaz Arzi, the attorney who represented Regavim before the Supreme Court.

“This is a case of intolerable negligence on the part of the authorities.”

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