After several delays, an order to demolish a synagogue in the Jerusalem suburb of Givat Ze'ev is finally set to go into effect – but residents and supporters are hoping for a last-minute miracle that will spare the structure.
The Ayelet Hashahar synagogue, which has been in use for over 20 years, was slated to be demolished after far-left group Yesh Din filed a petition with the High Court, claiming the structure had been build on privately-owned Palestinian land.
A petition to demolish it has been working its way through the courts for at least three years.
Members of the congregation have offered the land's alleged owners a high price for the purchase or rental of the land, but the owners, and their lawyers, have insisted that the synagogue be torn down.
It is not clear why the Palestinian claimants waited some two decades to make their claims, the congregants said. The heads of the congregation appealed after they stated they were in possession of documents showing that they bought the land from its owners.
In September, the High Court ruled that the land belonged to the plaintiffs, and that there was no alternative but to tear it down. The demolition order is set to go into effect on October 15 – postponed by a week, the court said, because of the “sensitivity of tearing it down a day after the end of the Sukkot holiday.”
In a last-minute attempt to prevent the demolition, a mass protest is set for Thursday night at the site.
MK David Amsalem, chairman of the Knesset Interior Committee, said that it was “unbelievable that during these days of terror striking our streets that we will reward those whose only objective is to destroy a synagogue in Israel."
"We have had enough of patience, of 'gestures.' We will not mourn over the destruction of a synagogue while the Arabs celebrate our deaths from terror attacks. The time has come to change things.”
MK Bezalel Smotrich said in response to the court’s ruling that “The Supreme Court continues to prove its disconnection and distance from the nation.”
“The time has come to return the Supreme Court to its place and natural role by means of changing its format and regulating its status and authorities with respect to legislation.”