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Last Thursday night, while walking near a public prayer house that I usually visit, I was surprised to see some 20 people, some of whom are neighbors, doing illegal construction activities. Those involved destroying a wall and constructing another wall that blocks the back exit from the prayer house - the exit leading to the parking lot lavatories.

The person in charge of the prayer house called the police. A policeman came and told the constructors to stop, so they stopped, but continued after the police went. He called the police again - same result. The policemen refused to arrest them because they said that illegal construction issues must be decided by the municipality first. Since the municipality does not work during the weekend, we had to wait about 2.5 days, during which they built a complete blocking wall with a locked door.

This morning I went to the municipality engineering department. They said that they will examine the issue, but it will take them some time because of the "Corona vacation" and a problem with their computers. During this time, the illegal construction continues unhindered.

Should we, the law-keeping people who use this prayer house, just wait indefinitely until the municipality does its job? Or is there anything else we can do in the meantime? For example, can we:

  • Bring our own constructors that will destroy the new illegal wall and return to the previous situation?
  • Lockpick the new lock put on the illegal door, so that we can at least use the back passage as we did previously?
  • Take away their construction equipment temporarily, in order to slow down their progress?
  • Any other options?
  • It seems that construction without permission is a civil infraction in Israel, while the three options you float would almost certainly result in criminal charges (destruction of property or criminal damage to the wall, potential criminal damage to the lock if you damage it during the act of opening it, and theft for stealing the equipment). The proper option is to take legal action, which will take time. – Moo Mar 15 at 10:29
  • @Moo let's take it to the extreme: suppose someone builds a wall immediately adjacent to the entrance door, so that the door cannot be used at all, and no one can enter or exit the building. Should we still wait patiently inside/outside the building until the legal action concludes, since it is illegal to break the wall? If not, where is the boundary line? – Erel Segal-Halevi Mar 15 at 12:48
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    Yes, you should wait until the legal action is done - that’s the only legal recourse you might have. A restraining order (if such a thing exists in Israeli law) can be granted very quickly (potentially same day), which would stop construction and perhaps require access to be reestablished. If they are blocking the only exit, the police should do something immediately about access but that won’t resolve the underlying issue and it also doesn’t sound like this is the only exit in the question asked. – Moo Mar 15 at 13:18
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You need an injunction (Tzav Mnia)

An injunction is an interim measure to prevent things getting worse while the actual merits of the case are decided. They can order people to do or not do certain things and failure to comply is contempt of court - a pretty serious crime.

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  • Thanks! I considered the police and the municipality, but did not consider going to court, since I thought that going to court would take even longer. – Erel Segal-Halevi Mar 16 at 14:08

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