The Regavim Movement’s recent High Court of Justice petition targeting Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s refusal to revoke an anti-Jewish law still in force in Judea and Samaria is approaching the next stage, and Regavim has released a video highlighting the issue.

“The situation is so ridiculous, it’s difficult to explain how it has continued for so long,” said Tamar Sikurel, Regavim’s spokesperson. “The State of Israel continues to enforce a law that discriminates against Jews and bars them from purchasing land in the heart of the Land of Israel. Discrimination of this kind would be immediately struck down in any other modern democracy – but here, in our ancestral land, the government of the Jewish state is afraid to protect the rights of the Jewish People. It’s an outrage, an affront to justice and equality, and a badge of shame”.

Nearly two months ago, the High Court of Justice issued a conditional order to repeal Jordanian Law #40 in response to a petition filed by the Regavim Movement; the government and the Minister of Defense were given 60 days to file arguments in defense of their continued enforcement of the law that prohibits the sale of land in Judea and Samaria to Jews.

As the deadline nears, the Regavim Movement has called upon Defense Minister Gantz to adopt the professional opinion of former defense ministers Lieberman, Netanyahu and Bennett – an opinion shared and supported by the Ministry of Defense’s experts and legal advisers – and repeal the racist law without delay.

“Defending this indefensible law will only add insult to injury,” added Sikurel. “Defense Minister Gantz – don’t wait for the High Court to intervene. Strike down Jordanian Law 40 today!”

On 10 May 2021, the May riots, during the Guardian of the Walls operation, began throughout Israel. It all started when rockets were fired from Gaza on Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim), and continued in the form of lynches and attacks against Jews in mixed cities, riots on the streets of the Negev, violence and terror during a long and difficult week.

As soon as the riots in Lod broke out, we set up a ‘situation room’, together with My Israel, for the sake of the Jewish residents in mixed cities. We helped to organize volunteers: medics, drivers, armed ex-officers, caregivers, and more.

But it doesn’t end here. Since last year, the situation on the roads in the Negev hasn’t exactly calmed down, while shootings and violence in the streets of mixed cities haven’t stopped. The sense of security and safety among the public has taken a hit. And the public’s trust in the authorities has also been damaged. However, as an organization that’s been battling for the Negev for over a decade, we feel as though the public is waking up and understanding the challenge that Israel faces. The Negev issue has become important and significant in the Israeli public discourse. There’s an understanding that the Negev is a place worth fighting for. Although it’s become an ‘ex-territory’, the State of Israel can and must return to the Negev!

In the last year, we have initiated and participated in Knesset hearings about the erosion of governance. We have engaged policymakers, and taken them out to the field to see, discuss, and monitor the various issues in the Negev and elsewhere. We opened dozens of new cases relating to the authorities’ conduct during and after the May riots. We wanted to find out how many rioters were caught, how many criminal cases were opened, and how many indictments were filed.

We weren’t surprised to learn that the real problem today in the State of Israel is the legal system. While we were critical of the Police’s efforts (or lack thereof) during the riots, it should be noted that criminals were indeed arrested. However, the Courts released the criminals back into the streets without significant punishment, undermining the authorities, the rule of law, and Israel’s security.

Looking forward, it’s pretty obvious that the next round of violence is just a matter of time. The judiciary must undergo serious reform. The criminals must be given the message that there’s accountability. When you break the law and engage in violence, there must be heavy punishments that serve as a deterrent to others!

We must not let down our guard. Israel is our one and only homeland – and we shall always work to protect it.

Heartbreaking: Yuval Eilat’s widow releases cutting statement: “Our lives have been destroyed, and the camel caravan marches on.”

Three weeks after the fatal camel accident that cost Yuval Eilat Uzan his life, a herd of camels was seen roaming the Negev roads this morning. Regavim: “The Ministry of Agriculture’s negligence is a ticking time bomb.”

Just three weeks ago, Yuval Eilat Ozan, a resident of Kibbutz Dvir, was killed when he hit a stray camel while driving to work in Be’er Sheva. This morning, motorists reported on a herd of stray camels roaming the winding roads between Arad and Masada, endangering motorists’ lives. Judith Eilat Ozan, Yuval’s widow, decried the continuing chaos in the south, and criticized the authorities for ignoring the problem.

“Around three weeks ago, our lives and the lives of our beloved Yuval were decimated,” she says in pain. “It’s hard enough to come to terms with this blow and this unnecessary death, but the most shocking thing is to discover that his life and ours are of no importance; we are unprotected, and the caravan of camels continues to walk the roads of the Negev as if nothing happened. More camels, and more accidents, are on the way.”

“We are honest, law-abiding people who have always believed that the authorities should take responsibility for human life and insure people’s safety. This disregard, this abandonment, and the danger of this ongoing threat haunt us constantly. Perhaps if this problem is addressed and the government takes responsibility it will give some meaning to Yuval’s unnecessary and painful death.”

The Regavim Movement, which has been monitoring and addressing the phenomenon of camels roaming the Negev and led the battle for legislation of the 2018 “Camel Law” passed in 2018 by MKs Bezalel Smotrich and Eitan Kabel, notes that the Ministry of Agriculture is dragging its feet and stalling the full implementation of the law, which requires camels to be marked with a subcutaneous chip and imposes criminal liability on owners of wandering camels.

Yakhin Zik, Director of Operations at Regavim, says: “Fatal road accidents involving camels are a shocking phenomenon that must be eradicated. The Ministry of Agriculture has failed to implement the law and has not completed the camel registration and chip-identification that is meant to force owners to keep a close eye on their animals. We are working on an official Knesset plenum query on this matter and we will continue to monitor developments closely.”

Camels seen on 11 May, near Arad and Masada

Last weekend, Israel’s High Court of Justice (HCJ) handed down a decision on a petition that’s been pending for two decades. The High Court allowed for hundreds of Palestinian invaders to be evicted from Training Ground 918, an IDF training zone in the South Hebron Hills region. The complicated case has been discussed in the courtrooms for no less than 20 years – a discussion that’s been based mainly on Fake News peddled by radical left-wing NGOs and the Palestinian Authority.

After repeatedly preventing any enforcement action against the invaders (who, in the meantime, built hundreds of additional illegal structures), the HCJ examined the aerial photos and maps, which prove beyond doubt that there was never any permanent Arab settlement in the area before it was declared an IDF training zone.

The Court’s verdict confirmed the obvious, and green-lighted the eviction of the invaders and return of the territory to the hands of the IDF.

It took two decades (!) for the HCJ to reach the right decision about 30,000 dunams that were stolen from the State of Israel – two decades too long, during which the case became more complex, problematic, and entangled in legal bureaucracy.

The Courts’ misguided and boundless leniency toward Palestinian intruders, even when at the expense of Israelis’ security and safety, proves to be a disaster, time and again. Instead of dealing with the problem in 918 early on, the State of Israel now needs to confront a difficult reality on the ground.

In the last few days, unsurprisingly, the Haaretz newspaper launched a propaganda campaign about the “Masafer Yatta eviction”. However, the facts are quite different, as we told you back in February 2021 >> see here.

It’s been a long, strange journey – but Bedouistan (meanwhile, only the book…) is finally a reality.

We are pleased and proud to announce that years of research, analysis, writing and editing, and an overwhelmingly successful crowdfunding campaign, have come together in the publication of the Hebrew-language version of “Bedouistan: How the State of Israel is Losing the Negev.”

The new volume – the first of its kind – offers a factual, up-to-date, multifaceted look at the reality on the ground in the Negev.

“Bedouistan” is rapidly disappearing from the shelves of Israel’s book stores (online orders for the Hebrew version can be placed here), and has become the go-to resource for policy-makers, journalists, and citizens of Israel who want to understand the Negev. But that’s not enough. We want readers around the world – foreign parliamentarians and journalists, academics and interested citizens – to have equal access to this important material, so we’re launching a new crowdfunding campaign to enable us to translate and publish Bedouistan in English.

Want to help? Join the campaign, and pre-order your copy today here.

Dear Friends and Partners,

Israel’s Independence Day, Yom HaAtzmaut, is a day of celebration – although every day, for 74 years now, we’re thankful for the Jewish and independent State of Israel.

The three weeks between Pesach and Yom HaAtzmaut are days of remembrance, renewal and national rebirth. These three weeks thread together the Exodus from Egypt, Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day for Israel’s Fallen), which gives way seamlessly to the celebration of our national independence.

Despite the challenges, despite the hardships we face, we recognize the simple truth: Israel is our one and only homeland.

Best wishes for a Happy Yom HaAtzmaut from the entire Regavim Team – and thank you for your continued partnership.

Yesterday, after a field tour with the “Shrinking the Conflict” organization, we found our car with a shattered windshield, a broken door, and a huge rock left on the road. Ironic, no?

As part of a tour that focused on environmental issues, we stopped near Route 465 in the Binyamin Region to get a closer look of the raw sewage that flows unchecked out of Bir Zeit and into the nearby streams, polluting the ground, the water, and the entire ecological system.

When we were about 20 meters from the cars, we noticed an Arab driver who braked and hurled an enormous rock toward our cars, shattering the windshield of Regavim’s field coordinator. This was an act of hatred and violence – and a sadly symbolic end to the tour.

Luckily, we weren’t sitting in the car when the rock was thrown or driving at speed. Sometimes people forget or are unaware of the daily reality in Judea and Samaria. For a long time, Judea and Samaria has been plagued with Arab terror of various sorts: rock attacks, molotov cocktails, knives, guns, and other forms of violence.

We’re not going to back down. We’re not afraid. We’ll continue to protect Israel’s land resources and to preserve Israeli sovereignty – throughout the Land of Israel. This is our one and only country. We refuse to give up on it.

Ofra Wastewater Treatment Facility (top-right) and the raw sewage it is meant to treat

After 14 years, Israeli government to issue tender for the Ofra Wastewater Treatment Facility

Important environmental protection victory: A “Green Now” petition has resulted in an announcement by the state that it will issue a tender for bids to operate a wastewater treatment plant serving Ofra and adjacent Arab villages – 14 years after construction of the facility.

Are 14 years of bureaucratic foot-dragging and ongoing pollution about to end? Yesterday (Thursday), the Israeli government notified the High Court of Justice that it would publicize a call for bids for the operation of a wastewater treatment facility to serve the Jewish community of Ofra in the Binyamin Region, as well as five neighboring Arab villages. In the state’s response to a petition filed by the environmental protection group “Green Now” and residents of Ofra, the High Court was notified that the Civil Administration’s Committee on Tenders has approved the documentation and publication of a call for bids to plan, construct and operate the Ofra Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF).

The WWTF at Ofra was built by the Binyamin Regional Council, with government funds, in 2009, but only after construction was completed, the land on which it stands was identified as privately owned. The project was frozen in 2011, before the facility was activated, when leftist organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice.

In its decision, the High Court instructed the state to activate the facility only after completion of legal expropriation of the property, which was duly completed in 2019 – but the facility wasn’t activated. Ever since, millions of cubic liters of raw sewage from Ofra and the nearby villages has continued to flow past the padlocked gates, polluting the soil, poisoning the olive groves and the groundwater.

In a hearing of the Green Now-Ofra petition in February 2022, the justices excoriated the state, and expressed outrage over the length of time that the process has dragged on – over a decade after the previous High Court of Justice decision was handed down. The High Court denied the government’s request for an additional extension of six months in order to prepare for publication of a tender.

Attorney Shlomo Meir Rabinowitz of “Green Now” responded to the announcement: “More than a decade has passed since the High Court of Justice’s decision decried the ongoing, catastrophic damage to the environment that continues with each passing day that the wastewater facility is left inactive. Now that the Civil Administration has announced the approval and publication of a call to submit tenders, we will continue to monitor progress, to insure that the Civil Administration does, in fact, take the necessary steps to activate the facility as promised. It is unfortunate that it took a lawsuit to get results.”

A ground-level view of the Ofra Wastewater Treatment Facility
A view from above: Town of Lehavim in the Negev

Today (Sunday) the Israeli government approved the establishment of 5 new settlements in the Mevo’ot Arad region, including a new Bedouin settlement. Regavim called the decision a “positive and proactive Zionist settlement policy decision.”

The Regavim Movement welcomed this morning government’s decision to establish five new settlements in the Mevo’ot Arad region. Among the slated new communities is a new all-Bedouin settlement.

Regavim’s statement pointed out that today’s decision affirms decisions taken by the previous government in 2011 and 2014.

“The Mevo’ot Arad region is a strategic area for the State of Israel, and strengthening this region through the establishment of new settlements is an expression of basic Zionist ideals, using planning and regulation of land resources for settlement in a manner that will make the Negev desert bloom. We congratulate Minister of Interior Ayelet Shaked for her leadership in this matter.”

Regavim also welcomed the establishment of a new Bedouin community in the region, provided that it is established in accordance with the planning criteria set for the establishment of the other new settlements in Mevo’ot Arad, and subject to the ‘convergence model’ for relocation of Bedouin squatters formulated by the current government:

“Several months ago, the government approved the establishment of three new settlements and a new supra-tribal city for the Bedouin sector, subject to the ‘convergence model’, which includes detailed identification of the encampment clusters slated for relocation, signed consent and relocation commitments by 70% of those slated for relocation to the new community, and clear deadlines for relocation. These same criteria must be applied to the new community approved in today’s decision.”

Regavim: The radicalization of the Bedouin community in the Negev is unaddressed – and has resulted in bloodshed

Following the murderous attack in Beer Sheva this afternoon in which four people lost their lives, Regavim released an anguished statement: “Once again, the loss of governance in the Negev has taken an intolerable toll in human life. For years, Regavim has been sounding the alarm and calling out the loss of governance in the Negev. We have warned, again and again, that the void of governance in the Negev is an open invitation to extremism and radicalization of the Bedouin sector that will result in bloodshed. Today, our worst fears were realized, and blood has been spilled on the streets of Beer Sheva.”

Regavim added that “the government of Israel is afraid to raise the entire issue of law enforcement in the Negev, while it approves billions for the Bedouin sector’s five-year development plan. And who pays the price for this breakdown of common sense and loss of governance? The residents of the Negev, who are faced with a nightmare reality that continues to devolve with each passing day. The problem is not insufficient funding. The problem is the lack of law enforcement. There is a state within our state in the Negev; it is called Bedouistan. The time has come for the State of Israel to take back the Negev.”