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A Tale of Two Houses of Worship


New Theological Insights of the Civil Administration- Immunity for Illegal Mosques. Synagogues – That’s Another Story.

Two illegal houses of prayer. Two identical petitions to the Supreme Court. Two identical interim orders against continued construction. Two violations of judicial orders. The development of the facts is amazingly similar. But, at this point, the paths diverge. This one for life, the other – for death. Are you curious? Keep reading.

El Matan, a pastoral neighborhood of the Ma’ale Shomron community. State land within the borders of the settlement, as well as within the development plan authorized for construction. Due to political reasons, the detailed plan for the neighborhood has been held up, so from a legal standpoint, it is impossible to issue building permits. A synagogue was built there without authorization. The extreme leftist organization “Yesh Din” a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court, through two heads of neighboring Arab villages.

The Supreme Court, as usual, rushed to the aid of “Yesh Din” and provided an interim court order that prohibits further construction of the synagogue. After a short while, the “Yesh Din” informers ran to the court and reported that, contrary to the interim order, aluminum windows had been installed in the synagogue. In light of the grave violation of the court order and accompanied by broad hints from the justices of the court, the state declared that since the court order had been violated, law enforcement had become top priority. As a result, the state announced decisively, the synagogue would be sealed within 14 days. The order was t be carried out by the residents- and, if not, the synagogue would be sealed by security forces. Neither entreaties nor political lobbying helped. The supplications of the residents that this was the only synagogue in the neighborhood did no good. The synagogue was sealed, prayer services within it ceased, and it has stood desolate for months. “Yesh Din” had “light, rejoicing and happiness.”

Up to this point, all was well.

But the state inexplicably stands silent and amazed in response to the violation of an identical interim Supreme Court order, and refrains from insisting on the respect due to the court by enforcing the law.

The subject under discussion is a large mosque that is being built illegally in the Burin village next to Yizhar in Samaria. The mosque is being built without authorization and outside any statutory program in force. The Regavim field inspectors documented the mosque’s construction, and after about two months of unfruitful correspondence, Regavim filed a petition with the Supreme Court demanding that the court direct the enforcement authorities to halt the construction before it is completed and before the mosque is used as a house of worship – which would make demolition that much more difficult afterwards.

To everyone’s surprise, when the village head was named as respondent to the petition, and based on the order that was issued against the synagogue in El Matan, the court issued a temporary order prohibiting further construction of the mosque.

But the Palestinians did not consider, even for a moment, complying with the order, and construction continued. When the Regavim field inspectors documented the violation of the judicial order, Amir Fisher, the movement’s attorney, contacted the Civil Administration and demanded that the mosque be immediately sealed, similarly to the fate of the El Matan synagogue. When the response of the Civil Administration did not arrive and construction continued, Attorney Fisher turned to the court and the latter directed the state to present its position within four days.

In accordance with the court’s direction, the state presented the Supreme Court with an announcement stating that judicial orders are not enforced on the direction of the head of the Civil Administration himself, because of the danger to inspectors.  

At the request of Regavim, an urgent session was held on Tuesday, 18 Adar I (22.2.11) regarding the petition and the violation of the court order. In advance of the session the state presented an additional announcement that stated that, due to the court’s order, the Burin village council sealed the mosque’s minaret. However, the state holds that the Burin council is obligated to seal the entire mosque to prevent its use.

Regavim hopes that the court will reject the discriminatory policy adopted by the state, to the detriment of Israeli residents and that it will require the state to seal the mosque immediately.