Demolition of the Mosque in the Formerly Unrecognized Arab Village of Husseniya

HCJ 1631/00 and HCJ 1878/00, Kaman Sawaed v. Magistrate Court of Akka, et. al., unpublished decision

The unrecognized village of Husseniya, along with tens of others like it, became "illegal" as a consequence of the enactment of the National Planning and Building Law (NPBL) (1965), which retroactively zoned the land as a non-residential area. In 1996, Palestinian citizens of Israel living in Husseniya built a small mosque in the village. In response, the Local Planning and Building Committee (LPBC) of Misgav submitted an indictment against them for illegally building the mosque on "agricultural" land, and obtained an administrative demolition order from the Magistrate Court in Akka (Acre) in 1999. Petition filed in 3/00 to the Supreme Court against the Akka Magistrate Court and the LPBC seeking the cancellation of the court's administrative demolition order, and challenging the NPBL procedure of "demolition without conviction." Petition submitted following a successful motion for injunction, by which the Supreme Court stayed the demolition order. Adalah argued that the Magistrate Court had no jurisdiction to order the demolition; that according to Article 70 of the Penal Law, the damaging of a holy site is a criminal offense; and that the demolition would violate the right of residents to worship freely.

Result: Supreme Court dismissed the case in 5/01. Following the Court's decision, residents dismantled the mosque and built a second, larger mosque in the village. The LPBC again issued an administrative demolition order. Adalah successfully obtained a court order from the Akka Magistrate Court to quash the LPBC demolition order in 11/01. The Magistrate Court judge ruled that in cases where there is a local governing committee, but no municipality or local council, the head of the planning committee must consult with the head of the local governing committee before ordering the demolition of buildings under the latter's jurisdiction. An appeal by the Misgav LPBC is pending before the Haifa District Court.

(H.C. 1631/00 and H.C. 1878/00, Kaman Sawaed v. Magistrate Court of Akka, et. al., unpublished decision)