Arutz Sheva was at the scene as hundreds of concerned Jews gathered on Tuesday in the Samaria town of Givat Assaf, located north of Jerusalem near Beit El, to join in a prayer rally to save the community from destruction.
The far-left group Peace Now seven years ago petitioned for the town’s destruction claiming it was built on Arab-owned land; residents argue it was not privately owned and therefore can easily be recognized as state land, adding that nearly all of the land was purchased and legally registered by residents in the state land registry.
In a court discussion on three buildings in the town two weeks ago, a state representative said the government will not recognize the town, in a reversal of earlier promises which legal experts argue may pave the way for a wider destruction of the community. That fear was strengthened after judges chose to wait on the three buildings for an additional decision on the case.
“They claimed we were sitting on stolen land. The lands here were nearly all obtained in full, everything was in order, and everyone knew it,” Givat Assaf resident Eldad Shorek told Arutz Sheva at the rally. “And then they invented a new claim, that these lands were not slated for regularization and the country isn’t interested in resolving their recognition (as state land).”
The move is a prelude to demolition, argues Shorek, noting that “telling the High Court there’s no intention to regularize is like telling the High Court ‘go on, destroy.'”
Shorek added that there isn’t even an Arab complainant in the case claiming ownership of the lands, saying “it’s the most basic thing, you don’t start a case without a complainant. Afterwards, there’s also the fact that we bought the land.”
Chief Rabbi of Tzfat (Safed) Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu was present at the prayer rally and led prayers, and was joined by Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home).
“The message is clear, that the land of Israel belongs to the nation of Israel,” said Ben-Dahan. “The legal claim (alone) is not a strong enough claim… we cannot give up on this important place that is strategically important to all the generations, the IDF also knows that it’s important.”
Noting the government’s ability to recognize the town by declaring it state land, Ben-Dahan stated “we saw many places in Judea and Samaria that there were legal doubts about them and they were solved in the end. There’s no reason in the world why this place shouldn’t find its solution too.”
Yesha Council Chairman Avi Roeh was also at the event, and said “we’ve done up till now everything possible to enable (the continuation of the community), including purchasing lands that cost more than a little money to ensure the continued existence of Givat Assaf.”
Roeh noted the line from the prayer service “restore our judges as in days of old and our advisers as in the beginning,” saying he was convinced the prayers would help the community in this time of hardship, that falls during the Days of Awe during which in Jewish tradition all mankind is judged.
Prayer rally at Givat Assaf Yoni Kempinski