Israel's Supreme Court has ordered the government to demolish nine homes in Judea-Samaria which were allegedly built on private Palestinian land, AFP reports Monday.
According to the ruling handed down late on Sunday, the authorities have until 2017 to carry out the demolitions in Ofra, north of Jerusalem.
"Given the difficulty in implementing the demolitions, where families live in most of the buildings, and to allow them to find alternative accommodation, I propose that the demolition orders be carried out within two years of this judgment," judge Asher Grunis wrote.
It was a long-awaited response to a petition filed in 2008 by five Palestinian landowners and leftist NGO Yesh Din.
"The petition before us relates to buildings about which there is no disputing the fact that they were constructed illegally," the court said.
Chief Justice Miriam Naor took a swipe at the government's foot-dragging over evicting Jewish families from the homes.
"By the end of the time stipulated, the demolition orders should be carried out with no attempts to postpone the inevitable, as is customary, unfortunately, in such cases," she wrote.
Yesh Din's lawyer Shlomi Zachary hailed the ruling.
"By its decision the Supreme Court has made unequivocally clear that the law, human rights and particularly the right to property must be respected in the Palestinian territories," he told AFP.
Ofra, one of the oldest communities in Judea-Samaria, has a population of 3,400. It is not a part of the settlement blocs said to be at the core of land swaps on the table in the event of a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority.