(July 23, 2020, Jerusalem, JNS Wire)
The Last Dance at Ragadan
Hosts and guests celebrating joyous occasions at Ragadan, a high-end event hall on the outskirts of Tira, probably had no idea that the land on which they were wining, dining and dancing was supposed to be a cemetery.
Almost four years have passed since Regavim’s field coordinator identified two large event venues under construction on the outskirts of the Arab-Israeli town of Tira, only a few meters off of the Trans-Israel Highway (Route 6). After investigating the situation, we discovered that the property which was being developed for these lucrative new businesses – without any permits, of course – was included in a larger municipal plan for a cemetery. One of the reasons for this land-use classification is that high voltage Israel Electric Company power lines run directly overhead. In other words, the location of the event halls on public land also violated safety requirements and put every guest of “Ragadan” in immediate, life-threatening danger.
The owners of the hall waged a years-long legal battle against the state, employing every possible means to prevent law enforcement – but failed. Six months ago, when the last legal hurdle was removed, Regavim turned to the National Construction and Planning Authority’s Enforcement Unit, officially requesting that the demolition orders that had been issued years earlier, at the start of the legal proceedings, be carried out – before they expired.
As a result, the Enforcement Unit tore down the larger of the two halls earlier this week.
“We applaud the National Enforcement Unit for its decisive steps to enforce the law in this case. These were complex and lengthy proceedings, but the dense and daunting legal thicket did not deter them,” said Yakhin Zik, Director of Operations at Regavim. “This case is a resounding confirmation of the importance of the Kaminitz Law, which now empowers enforcement bodies to take action, and places a large and effective set of legal tools at their disposal. The ripple effect will most certainly deter others from building illegally. Before the Kaminitz Law’s amendments to Israel’s Planning and Construction Code, cases of illegal construction – even those that pose immense dangers to public safety – went unaddressed and the perpetrators scoffed at the toothless law and laughed all the way to the bank. This is the beginning of the end of the game of cat and mouse between construction criminals and the forces of the law – a game that went on for far too long.”
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