'Netanyahu, save our homes!'

Residents of embattled Jewish neighborhood south of Jerusalem rally supporters, call for community's legal status to be normalized.

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Hezki Baruch,

Netiv Avot residents, supporters rally in Gush Etzion
Netiv Avot residents, supporters rally in Gush Etzion
Hezki Baruch

Residents of an embattled Jewish community 10 minutes south of Jerusalem rallied supporters Sunday night, calling upon the Likud-led government to normalize the community's legal status and prevent the demolition of homes slated for evacuation under a Supreme Court order.

Netiv Avot, a small community adjacent to the town of Elazar in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, is slated for demolition, after the Supreme Court ordered the state to evacuate 17 buildings.

In 2016, the Supreme Court ordered that 17 buildings in the small Gush Etzion community of Netiv Avot be demolished, arguing that the homes were built “without any zoning permit” and are located in part on land claimed by private Arab owners.

Two of the buildings are slated for demolition before the end of the year, while the remaining 15 are to be evacuated by March 2018.

Critics of the court’s ruling have challenged the claims of private ownership, saying they have not been verified or officially registered.

Representatives of the community have offered to remove the narrow portions of six houses resting on the disputed land – an offer later taken up by the state but refused by the Supreme Court, which ruled that all 17 buildings must be completely demolished.

During the rally Sunday evening, Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to prevent Netiv Avot's demolition.

“Bring all of your determination, work to save Netiv Avot and we’ll stand with you the entire way. Just make sure that this place is not destroyed.”

Bennett acknowledged that the Jewish Home alone was unable to ensure Netiv Avot's survival, but said that he would do his utmost to try and prevent the demolition.

“I can’t promise something that is beyond my power to deliver, but we will do everything we can to protect this town.”

In addition to Bennett, the rally featured appearances by ministers and coalition MKs including Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu), Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud), MK Sharren Haskel (Likud), MK Shuli Mualem (Jewish Home), and MK Oron Hazan (Likud).