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PCHR Welcomes Beit Lahia Municipal Council Decision to Abolish Leasing Public Utility for Private Project

Ref: 19/2020

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) welcomes Beit Lahia Municipality decision to withdraw its previous decision to lease public utility for a private project. PCHR calls upon municipal councils and other local bodies to act in the same manner with issues pertaining to public utilities and to follow the necessary legal proceedings for privatization or lease according to the law.

In its hearing on 15 January 2020, Beit Lahia Municipal Council issued decision No. 03/2020 to abolish its previous decision issued in hearing No. 46/2019 to lease a public utility lot (Green area) in Qleibo area for use as a plant nursery in exchange of an annual rent.

On Monday, 16 March 2020, the Gaza Administrative Court held a hearing to consider the summons submitted by PCHR, as the legal representative of Qleibo area residents in Beit Lahia. PCHR lawyer and the legal representative of Beit Lahia Municipality, addressed the municipal council’s retraction of its contested decision. Accordingly, PCHR’s lawyer asked the court to cancel the application while reserving its right to submit a new application if the municipality reverses its decision. The Gaza Administrative Court accepted PCHR’s demand.

It should be noted that PCHR submitted an urgent request on 04 December 2019 to the Administrative Court in Gaza to issue a decision to halt the Beit Lahia Municipality’s encroachments on a public utility until the court settles PCHR’s first complaint against to Beit Lahia Municipality’s decision to lease a public utility lot (Green area) to others; end all the legal ramifications; and restore it as a public utility.

PCHR’s urgent request came after a number of Palestinians, including the leaseholder, accompanied by a police force, installed construction tools at the land lot in concern, but were confronted by community residents who stopped them from proceeding with the construction works.

On 02 January 2020, the Administrative Court issued a decision in its last hearing with regard to the urgent request submitted by PCHR, to stop the Beit Lahia Municipality and the Local Governance Ministry’s encroachments on a public utility lot in favor of a private project until the court settles the matter.

It should be noted that the lot in concern is 1200 square meters and is intended for public benefit as inscribed in the Local Governance Ministry’s organizational and structure maps.  It is also located in the center of a densely-populated neighborhood of 80 houses that shelter 80 families of 600 persons and is the only green area intended to provide recreation for the local community.