Update On the Demolition Order of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in Yitzhar


yitzhar[See our earlier report here.] Under the order of the present Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, the IDF Civil Administration issued a demolition order on May 9, against the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in Yitzhar. According to Israeli building practice, the defense minister needs to sign off on the project as a formality. Barak has refused despite amply documented early government authorization and funding for its construction.

“At that time, our friends in Israel and the United States began a public pressure campaign,” Itamar Posen, Executive Director of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva¬†told Matzav.com. “Immediately, the mayor of the Shomron Regional Council, Gershon Mesika, began calling Knesset members till late at night. Rabbi Pesach Lerner sent out many letters encouraging a letter writing campaign to Prime Minister Netanyahu. Americans for a Safe Israel held a demonstration outside the Israeli consulate in New York. Various Jewish media outlets started reporting our predicament. The yeshiva asked for a stay of execution and received 45 days to appeal the decision.”

On July 4, the yeshiva handed in the appeal to the IDF Civil Administration. The appeal was based on two points:

1) The order to destroy the yeshiva was a political decision. When the ten month building freeze went into effect, the government decided that demolition orders were to be carried out in a certain order depending on the type of violation. Priority was given to buildings in violation of the 10 month freeze and property built on Arab land etc. According to the government’s own rules, this case, in which the building did not receive the defense minister’s signature, was the last on the list to be dealt with. The fact that the yeshiva received an order shows that it was political since they were not following their own rules of priority.

2) It is not logical that a building that was started 11 years ago and funded by the government to the tune of 3-4 million shekels should be destroyed by the body that funded it.

Meanwhile, a source within the defense ministry has informed several Knesset members that the demolition is not impending. Because of this source, the yeshiva’s Yesha leaders and government friends are not making the case a top priority.

“They figure that they will deal with the demolition danger if and when it becomes imminent,” says Itamar. “Our lawyer has informed us that we may hear the decision of the appeal in a few weeks or maybe even far into the future. Of course, the threat has not been removed. As long as the demolition order stands it can be carried out, and therefore public pressure is still needed for the government to rescind the order and authorize the building.

“Another issue we face is our electricity situation. The Israel Electric Company is forbidden to hook up any buildings that do not have the final approval of the defense minister. We have run a 400 meter cord at a cost of approximately $13,000 to a nearby building to supply the yeshiva with electricity. Even so, we are not getting an adequate supply and we experience frequent outages. Public pressure is needed to resolve this situation as well. If the government is pressured into providing electricity to the yeshiva, it will help in our public relations campaign against the demolition order.

“We will continue with our petitions, letters to Prime Minister Netanyahu and public pressure campaigns.”

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}