Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has asked Israel's Supreme Court to delay the destruction of 12 homes, two of which belong to Israeli Defense Forces soldiers who died in battle.
The government has deemed the Jewish neighborhood of Ha Yovel in the mountains of Samaria north of Jerusalem to be an illegal outpost. Demolition of the homes was to take place in two weeks, but Barak asked the Court for a six-month delay because the issue requires "sensitive and humane treatment."
Maj. Roi Klein was killed in action during the Second Lebanon War when he fell on a grenade thrown by Hezbollah guerillas, saving the lives of the other soldiers in his brigade. After his death he was awarded the IDF Medal of Courage. His wife and children still live in their Ha Yovel home.
The other fallen soldier, a neighbor of the Kleins, Maj. Eliraz Peretz, died March 26 during an exchange of gunfire with terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
The government's impending action has sparked angry debate in the Knesset. Several lawmakers took the Defense Ministry to task for not intervening to stop the neighborhood's destruction.
Barak could declare the neighborhood legal, which would stop the homes from being razed, but Knesset Minister Michael Ben-Ari fears Barak won't act for political reasons and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must act instead.
"I don't think the Defense Minister will want to certify the neighborhood," Ben-Ari said. "He would prefer to placate his far-left friends than do a brave act. Therefore, responsibility rests on the prime minister."
The Leftist activist group Peace Now petitioned the government for the neighborhood's destruction, hoping that Arabs will gain sovereignty in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).
Forty families with more than 100 children now live in Ha Yovel. One mother said the children are playing a new game called "what will we do when they come to destroy our house."
Sources: YnetNews, IsraelNationalNews.com