Report: Legalizing Chavat Gilad May Be a Problem

Havat Gilad, Chavat Gilad
A general view of Chavat Gilad, in the Shomron. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

Since the murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, H”yd, last week, MKs and ministers have called for ensuring the legal status of Chavat Gilad, the outpost where Rabbi Shevach lived and taught. But a report in Ha’aretz Wednesday quoted security officials as saying that changing the status of the outpost would be very difficult, as much of it is built on land claimed by private Palestinian owners.

The sources quoted by Ha’aretz contradicted the generally accepted belief that the outpost was built on private land – and that there were no legal issues standing in the way of making it an official community. Chavat Gilad, where 40 families live today, was established in 2000, in memory of Gilad Zar, H”yd, son of Moshe Zar, one of the Shomron’s first Jewish residents after the 1967 Six Day War. The outpost was set up on the spot where Gilad Zar was murdered by an Arab terrorist. The land itself is owned by the elder Zar, who purchased it from its Arab owners. The deeds were not since authorized by the government. As a result, the Civil Administration occasionally demolishes buildings on the site, only to see them rebuilt by residents and activists.

To advance the legalization effort, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman himself proposed a law to change the outpost’s status. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said that “it is important to authorize construction throughout Yehudah and Shomron. They seek to destroy, but we will build. The Palestinian Authority assists and funds terrorists, but we will overcome their plans. The Palestinians will learn that killing Jews will hurt them.”

But the sources quoted by Ha’aretz said that while some of the outpost is built on land that Zar owns, Chavat Gilad expanded over the years, and now much of it is on land claimed by Palestinians. While no lawsuits have yet been filed, the report said that leftist attorneys were looking into the matter, and would prepare claims to file with the High Court. In the past, the court has ordered the demolition of homes built on land claimed by Palestinians even if those claims could not be established in full. Only if the claims were disproved did the court allow construction to take place.

According to the report, the Settlement Arrangements Law, which provides legal relief in situations where Palestinians make unsubstantiated claims by providing them with compensation, would not allow legalization of Chavat Gilad, as the law affects only towns or outposts that were built with permission of the government. This is not the case with Chavat Gilad, which was built without permits of any kind.