This week, the IDF held a military exercise that began in the Negev in Biq’at Arad and ended in Training Ground 918 in the South Hebron Hills.
Shouldn’t be much of a big deal, right?
Well, far-left organizations such as B’Tselem pounced on this opportunity to attack the IDF, claiming that the drills were held “in Palestinian villages” and forced “local residents out of their homes”. This left-wing propaganda was publicized in the international media, too. It’s important for us at Regavim to present the facts so that fair-minded people aren’t brainwashed by these lies.
1. Training Ground 918 was declared a firing zone by the IDF in the early 1980s.
2. It’s a desert area, and like all other training grounds, was empty – besides sometimes functioning as a grazing area.
3. Training Ground 918 has served various IDF units over the years – including infantry, artillery, and the Air Force.
4. In 2000, local Arabs began to take over the area through mass illegal construction.
5. Due to the construction, the IDF was forced to reduce its activities in the Training Ground and made changes to training schedules.
6. Radical left-wing organizations filed a petition to the High Court of Justice, claiming that hundreds of Arab families had lived in the Training Ground for many years.
7. The IDF checked and found that only a handful of families lived in the area in 2000 – and they were all there on a seasonal basis. It wasn’t their permanent residence!
8. Out of 49 families mentioned in the petition, at least 38 were identified as permanent residents of the nearby village of Yatta or other villages.
9. Despite the State’s position, which viewed the land as rightfully belonging to the State, the High Court offered a compromise: the illegal structures on the periphery of the Training Ground would remain, and the rest of the land would be permitted for grazing and other agricultural purposes when the IDF isn’t using the grounds.
10. Although the Palestinian Authority was involved from the starting point, from 2009 onwards, together with international organizations, it started actively funding the illegal construction as part of their efforts to take over Area C. (For more on the #BattleforAreaC – see here)
11. In the meantime, the State of Israel didn’t do much; local Arabs continued their encroachment and even paved an illegal smuggling route.
12. The PA ignored the High Court’s suggestion for compromise. And as the PA-led encroachment increased, the number of IDF drills decreased drastically.
Ok, so to sum up, what happened this week? Exactly what happened a year ago, and the year before that. IDF troops came to train in an #DF training zone.
Unlike the left-wing radicals, we like to talk #facts rather than fake news and hateful, fabricated, anti-Israel narratives.
The Arab village was established in the middle of the IDF Training Ground, and not vice-versa. That must be the starting point of any discussion.
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