Chaim Levinson
September 24, 2010 - 12:00am

As settlers prepare to resume construction in full force on Monday, in an effort to preempt a possible last-minute extension of the settlement freeze, the star of the day is "light construction" - cheap, environmentally friendly methods that enable building a house in two months or less.

Monday is expected to be a big day for contractors, after nine months of no work. There are an estimated 2,000-2,200 housing units in the territories that have all the necessary approvals in order to begin construction.

In April, Yedidiya and Hadassah Spitz began building a 100-square-meter home in Amona to house their growing family. Several days after construction began, the High Court of Justice discussed razing Amona again in the wake of a petition filed by the human rights group Yesh Din.

Supreme Court Dorit Beinisch asked a state representative, "What are you doing with the new home? This is supposed to be one of your priorities," meaning it was due to be razed.

The state representative said that a warrant ordering the home to be razed had been issued, but it was already too late: The home was finished less than a month after construction began.

The Spitz family, like many, built their home with light construction methods, meaning light materials. This new method of "instant" construction is catching on, and also helps bypass the political restrictions and the inspectors

This method produces homes somewhere between the permanence of stone and mortar, and the temporariness of prefabs. In recent years the Civil Administration in the territories has blocked the entrance of prefabricated homes into the West Bank, making it impossible for settlers to erect them in many locations.

Mobile homes are good for only a few years - they tend to be hot, and are too small for large families. Enlarging mobile homes means expensive and complicated additions.

As an alternative, for NIS 200,000, light construction can be used to set up a nice, stable, long-lasting home. In less than a week, when the building hiatus in the territories comes to an end, many such homes are expected to rise in the West Bank.

On average, a light-construction home takes two months to complete.

"There are many different types of light construction," says a contractor who has built several such homes in the territories. "In three days I can finish the frame and then the rest depends on the client. The construction could be wood or steel, and covered with wood or stone. Contrary to what people may think, it is not warmer than a regular home. It can also be constructed from insulated materials."

Yigal Brandt, 29, lives in Havat Yair in Samaria, with his wife Michal and their children. Their home was built using light-construction techniques.

"Havat Yair is a community with 33 families. It has 13 permanent homes and a synagogue. This year they opened a daycare center," he says.

"We were the first in light construction three years ago. We did it because we wanted quick, quality and inexpensive construction. We built a fairly small home of four rooms and 80 square meters. It cost us about NIS 2,000 per square meter, built entirely by Jews. In less than two months we had a real home." Brandt says.

'Skirting the law'

Dror Etkes, who follows settlement construction for Peace Now, says this is a way of circumventing the ruling.

"The instant construction of homes in settlements is the main tool the settlers have developed in recent years in order to build and occupy homes before the Supreme Court has a chance to intervene and prevent people from moving in against the law," he says. "Their assumption is that the Supreme Court will hesitate to order the evacuation of homes, even if everyone knows the home was built in a way to evade the rule of law."


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