Givat Ze’ev synagogue evacuated ahead of planned demolition
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Givat Ze’ev synagogue evacuated ahead of planned demolition

Shul in settlement outside Jerusalem allegedly built on Palestinian land; High Court to hold final hearing next week

View of the settlement of Givat Zeev, near Jerusalem. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
View of the settlement of Givat Zeev, near Jerusalem. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Worshipers at a synagogue in the Givat Ze’ev settlement were evacuated by police Sunday night on the orders of the High Court of Justice, which had ruled that the structure be razed because it was allegedly built on private Palestinian land.

The demolition of the Ayelet HaShahar synagogue in the settlement, just northwest of Jerusalem, was initially scheduled for Monday but the court issued a temporary injunction Sunday delaying it, ahead of a hearing on the matter next week.

The congregation’s attorneys hope to make one final appeal to the court to prevent the structure from being torn down.

Israeli NGO Yesh Din first brought the case on behalf of the alleged land owner — a resident of the nearby Palestinian of village of Jib — to the attention of the court in 2008. In the years since, after the synagogue’s contractor failed to prove that he legally purchased the land, the court ordered the structure razed, according to Ynet.

Benches are removed from Givat Ze'ev's Ayelet Hashahar synagogue, August 9, 2015 (Arutz 7 screenshot)
Benches are removed from Givat Ze’ev’s Ayelet Hashahar synagogue, August 9, 2015 (Arutz 7 screenshot)

Congregants now say they have documents proving legitimate ownership of the land, which is why the temporary injunction to delay was issued.

Members of the synagogue — in use for some 20 years — are said to have offered additional funds to the Palestinian claimant hoping to reach a settlement and have the demolition order canceled, but to no avail, according to the Haredi newspaper Kikar Hashabat.

A festive meal inside Givat Ze'ev's Ayelet Hashahar synagogue (YouTube screenshot)
A festive meal inside Givat Ze’ev’s Ayelet Hashahar synagogue (YouTube screenshot)

According to an Haaretz article on the issue in 2013, the Palestinian claimant alleges that the purchase documents of the land, dated 1991, were forged.

On Sunday, rabbis and lawmakers requested that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intervene on the matter as worshipers had threatened to barricade themselves in the structure to prevent security forces from carrying out the order.

Security forces prepare to remove benches  from Givat Ze'ev's Ayelet Hashahar synagogue, August 9, 2015 ahead of a planned demolition of the shul. (Arutz 7 screenshot)
Security forces prepare to remove benches from Givat Ze’ev’s Ayelet Hashahar synagogue, August 9, 2015 ahead of a planned demolition of the shul. (Arutz 7 screenshot)

The worshipers were removed without incident Sunday night and the equipment was taken out ahead of the planned demolition.

A special ceremony for the removal of the Torah Scrolls from the synagogue was scheduled for Monday.

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