Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

Jewish Agency faces probe over allocation of Palestinian land to settlement

19 July 2009

By Amos Harel, Haaretz – 19 July 2009

Attorney General Menahem Mazuz has told police to investigate workers from the Jewish Agency’s settlement division on suspicion of knowingly allocating private Palestinian land for construction in the settlement of Ofra, Channel 2 reported on Friday.

Mazuz ordered the investigation in light of information revealed in a High Court of Justice petition filed by five Palestinian landowners, Channel 2 said.

The Palestinians, the heirs of the original owners, petitioned the High Court against the construction of five houses on their land, in southern Ofra.

Ofra is north of Ramallah, in the northern West Bank.

Construction was well underway when the petition was submitted, with the help of human rights groups Yesh Din and B’Tselem. By the time of the hearing, the houses were already occupied.

During the hearing, the state’s representatives conceded that the buildings were on private Palestinian land.

The Justice Ministry wrote a letter to Yesh Din member Dror Etkes, informing him it was launching an investigation.

The settlers who purchased the land showed the court their contracts with the settlement division, which stated that the land was transferred to the settlement division by the Civil Administration official in charge of abandoned property in the West Bank.

The settlement division in turn transfered it to Ofra’s partnership organization, which sold it to the Israelis.

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