February 4, 2014 – Israeli High Court of Justice on Battir: Issue is complex, need additional respondents


February 4, 2014

On January 29th, the High Court of Justice in Israel held another hearing on the petitions submitted by EcoPeace Middle East and the Village of Battir, regarding our objection to the building of the Separation Barrier in this sensitive landscape.

Although we thought that this was to be the final hearing, the issue is complex, and the Court has now requested further clarifications from the respondents (mainly the Israeli Ministry of Defense) and ordered that both the Israel Railway and the Ministry of Transport to be joined as additional respondents to the petitions.

The Court appears extremely reluctant that the military remove a single stone terrace. They have therefore asked Israel Railway to consider the possibility that one of the two existing railway tracks be used as the path of a separation fence. The Court also asked the military to detail how gates proposed to be built for farmer access would guarantee access in a manner that is consistent with the traditional Battir farming methods.

EcoPeace believes, supported by expert opinion, that due to the topography of the area, it is not possible to build the type of physical structure that the military is proposing without destroying several hundred meters of ancient stone terrace walls, and from prior experience of military operated gates in other locations, traditional farming methods of the kind unique to Battir farmers, running with the flow of spring waters, could not be maintained if military operated gates are in place.

EcoPeace’s Israeli Director, Gidon Bromberg, says that “ecoPeace will continue to provide the needed expert opinion that shows that in this particular case, the option of no physical barrier, but alternative technological security measures, are the only means to strike the balance between the needs of security and the cultural heritage / livelihood values of the residents and the broader region.”

For more information, contact Gidon Bromberg at gidon@ecopeaceme.org; 052-4532597