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2014 | Compensation awarded for the illegal outpost of Amona

Via the links below you can read about the exceptional case of a successful compensation claim brought by a group of Palestinians from the villages of Silwad, Ein Yabrud and Taybeh (in the West bank), before the Jerusalem Magistrates Court in June 2014. The case concerns a large area of privately owned Palestinian land which was invaded, fenced in and built upon over many years until it comprised some dozens of buildings, forming the small outpost settlement of Amona. The building erased the formerly agricultural character of the land.  The owners were deprived not only of their land but also of its food crops and associated income. 

The dispossession began in 1995 and continued uninterruptedly until 2005 when a petition by Peace Now to the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) resulted in a demolition order from the court for 9 of the buildings on the site. However settlers effectively replaced these by erecting new buildings. In 2008 Yesh Din submitted a new petition to the (HCJ) requiring the State to give account for failing to seriously implement the demolition orders. At the same time Yesh Din assisted the landowners in preparing to sue the State of Israel for damages before the Jerusalem Magistrates Court.

The implementation of demolition and evacuation orders has been repeatedly postponed by State-requested extensions based on various different claims. The State has argued among other things that the lands in question were not under cultivation by the Palestinian owners prior to 1996, and that parts of the land were legitimately purchased by some of the settlers. The first of these assertions was subsequently disproved while the second has become the subject of a criminal investigation based on the suspicion that fraud (forgery) had been committed to support the claim of legitimate ownership by certain settlers. 

The chronicle of this case exposes the daunting obstacles with which the Palestinian petitioners were confronted. However it also reveals fault lines between Israeli actors on the side of the State. While it should be noted that by the time of the settlement most of the buildings in the illegal outpost had still not been evacuated, the settlement reached in June nevertheless marks a breakthrough. According to the settlement, the State will pay NIS 300,000 to the six plaintiffs for loss of livelihood (out of dozens of land owners with potential claims over the land). If by the end of 2015 the structures standing on the plaintiffs' land are not totally evacuated, the State will pay the plaintiffs another total of NIS 48,000. The landowners are considering using the compensation money to establish a legal aid fund for Palestinians whose land was taken over by Israelis.

Click here to read the chronology of events leading to the award of compensation, in a summary prepared by the Israeli organization Yesh Din who assisted the claimants in preparing thri case.

Here you can read about the successful outcome of the compensation claim.