On February 11th 2007, the Civil Administration’s Planning Board published an ad in Ha’aretz to notify the public that it decided to approve the new scheme for the Matityahu East neighborhood in the settlement Modi’in Illit, on the lands of Bil’in west of the wall. Under the Planning Law applicable in the West Bank, the scheme will be valid 15 days after the publication of the ad.
On that very day, a group of Palestinians, Israelis and internationals decided to provide solid proof that the Planning Board approved a scheme although the conditions that very board stipulated were not yet met . And such proof was indeed provided.
an exposed sewage pipe, a meter and a half underground
One of the paragraphs in the new 210/8/1 scheme for Matityahu East says that a pre-condition for the very approval of the scheme is the restoration of enclaves owned, even according to the Civil Administration, by Palestinians from Bil’in. During the illegal construction activities in the compound, two of the enclaves were practically destroyed: on one of them, Green Park, one of the construction companies, built a house. On the second enclave, the companies paved the main road of the neighborhood, its width being 30 meters. Other enclaves were also damaged, but to a lesser extent, since they are located further away from the first-stage development area.
The scheme further demands that all building in the enclave should be destroyed, and that all ruins should be removed completely. This is also a pre-condition for the approval of the scheme itself.
On January 17th the Planning Board assembled to approve the scheme. Its members were presented with photographic evidence showing that the two enclaves were not properly restored. In both infrastructure remained buried underground, making any future agricultural use of the land unlikely. In any case, the representative of Bil’in argued, the fact that infrastructure remained there contradicts the specific requirement to restore the enclaves, and since this pre-condition was not met, the Board should not approve the scheme.
But as can be expected from the highest planning institution of the occupation, the scheme was approved on that very day – with the vague excuse that it was not proven that building or building ruins remained in the enclaves.
This conclusion was exactly what we went to contradict last Sunday. At around 11:00 am, we moved pass the fence of Matityahu East and into one of the enclaves. Later on we moved further to the most western enclave, not far away. On that western enclave we managed to uncover a concrete plate buried under the dirt, not before the security inspector of Modi’in Illit called the army and police and we were shortly chased away from there.
In the meantime some of us continued digging in the much larger first enclave. There we discovered many surprises: a complete telephone network box buried under the ground, leading telephone lines through the enclave and to the houses further east; a huge sewage pipe going from the houses through the enclave to the local sewage factory down the road; and a segment of the asphalt road and pavement which the construction companies left untouched buried under a thin layer of dirt.
All this hard-evidence will be put shortly to legal use in the upcoming new Court petition against the approval of the scheme. Our joint action proved once again that the Civil Administration’s Planning Board is working hand in hand with the settlers’ construction companies to promote the settlements enterprise – even when the conditions this very Board stipulated are not met.