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Justice minister says AG okays legalizing terror victim’s West Bank outpost

Ayelet Shaked expects to submit proposal for authorizing Havat Gilad community, home to the late Raziel Shevach, at next cabinet meeting

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked seen at a ceremony for newly graduated lawyers at the Jerusalem Congress Center, January 24, 2018. (Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked seen at a ceremony for newly graduated lawyers at the Jerusalem Congress Center, January 24, 2018. (Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said Wednesday that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit had approved a proposal to legalize a West Bank outpost that had been the home of an Israeli shot dead in a terror attack earlier in the month.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has spearheaded a drive to legalize the Havat Gilad outpost in the northern West Bank after one of its residents, 35-year-old father of six, Rabbi Raziel Shevach, was killed as he drove home on January 9. However, legal questions have been raised over how much of the outpost is on private Palestinian land, a circumstance that would hinder its legalization.

In a tweet, Shaked, who is from the settlement-supporting Jewish Home party, wrote, “Attorney General approved the proposal by decision-makers to approve Havat Gilad. There is no legal impediment to raising it. We expect the decision will be brought to the government on Sunday.”

View of the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad, January 10, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Army Radio reported that, currently, the proposal is not on the agenda for the upcoming weekly cabinet meeting.

The station also said that the Justice Ministry intends to set up a special team whose aim would be to solve problems with the access roads to the outpost, some of which are on cultivated land.

Most of the land on which the illegal outpost was constructed is privately owned Palestinian property, according to the IDF’s land registrar in the West Bank, the Haaretz daily reported last week.

The outpost was founded in 2002, on land purchased for the project by right-wing activists. But the current community of some 40 families sits on an area far larger than the original purchase, and includes land that is listed as owned by Palestinians, both according to the claims of local Palestinians and according to the Israeli land registrar for the West Bank.

Furthermore, none of the buildings in the outpost, including those built on Israeli-owned land, is legal, and all have outstanding demolition orders against them, since they were built without a zoning or planning process, and without the approval of local government bodies.

Rabbi Raziel Shevach with his family, in an undated photo (Courtesy of the family)

Havat Gilad residents claim to have purchased the land prior to establishing the outpost. The settlers named their hilltop community after Gilad Zar, the security coordinator of the Shomron Regional Council, who was shot dead in a terror attack in 2001.

Palestinians, however, have denied the purchase, claiming that the documents were falsified.

On January 9, shortly before 8 p.m., Shevach was driving his car on the highway near his home in Havat Gilad, when shots were fired at him from a passing vehicle.

Shevach, a volunteer medic, was shot in the neck, but managed to call his wife and tell her to call an ambulance. Civilian and military medics rushed to the scene and tried to stop the bleeding as they took Shevach to Kfar Saba’s Meir Hospital, where he was pronounced dead after life-saving efforts failed.

Israeli security services launched a manhunt after the perpetrators, leading them to a house in Jenin where the suspects were believed to be hiding last Thursday.

A firefight broke out during the arrest raid. One suspect was killed and another was taken into custody. Two police officers were wounded, one of them seriously.

However, suspected terror cell leader Ahmad Nassar Jarrar apparently succeeded in fleeing the scene.

Israeli forces have been in pursuit of him ever since, with Liberman saying on Friday that he is “living on borrowed time.”

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