We often discuss the issue of the illegal takeover of Area C, the area of Judea and Samaria under Israeli jurisdiction. Let’s break it down into numbers.
Illegal Palestinian structures, built in Area C without permits: 2009: 29,784 2018: 58,435 2020: 65,572
According to official data, every year the Civil Administration tears down between 200-250 structures. So even if you hear of the odd demolition, it’s like a drop in the sea. The Palestinian Authority is carrying out mass, rapid, illegal construction, changing the map by creating facts on the ground.
Looking at the number of illegal structures doesn’t tell the full story, however. While Israeli-Jewish construction is often ‘upwards’, the Palestinian-Arab construction tends to be ‘sideways’ – in other words, spreading over huge swathes of land.
In 2009, Israeli construction covered 47,327 dunams in Area C, while Palestinian construction sprawled over 44,495 dunams.
By 2019, the number of dunams covered by Israeli construction increased slightly to 56,700 while Palestinian construction was over 78,500 (!) dunams.
The alarm bells must ring. We are up against huge, EU-funded, PA-orchestrated efforts to steal more and more land in Area C, the section of Judea and Samaria under full Israeli jurisdiction. In line with the Fayyad plan that was devised in 2009, the takeover is methodical, strategic, and effective.
Israel can win this battle; but it must change its mindset and understand that this is about the future of our ancestral homeland. We call on the Israeli government to prevent the establishment of a de-facto Palestinian terror state in Israel’s heartland.
Regavim petitions High Court of Justice: Apply the enforcement tools legislated in 2018 against new Palestinian Authority de facto annexation in Gush Etzion region of Area C.
Following the Regavim Movement’s urgent requests to the Ministry of Defense to halt further progress on an illegal road being paved by the Palestinian Authority in a strategic area of Gush Etzion, Regavim filed a petition in the High Court of Justice this morning (Wednesday). The road, which connects the Area B villages of Battir and Husan, will effectively strangle the Jewish community of Har Gilo.
Last week, the Regavim Movement submitted a second urgent alert to Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and to the Civil Administration, demanding immediate enforcement action against a strategic Palestinian Authority project in Gush Etzion – a road connecting the Palestinian villages Battir and Husan.
The road skirts the Jewish community of Har Gilo, spanning the Heletz Valley, and connects the illegal “northern extension” of Battir to the village of Husan, both of which are designated as Area B (under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction).
Eitan Melet, Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria, who documented the ongoing roadwork, explains that the land on which the Palestinian Authority is laying the road is of particular strategic importance: “This,” he says, “constitutes the corridor connecting Gush Etzion to Jerusalem, and is a vital strategic asset for Israeli control of the area. The illegal road, and the further expansion of the Palestinian villages that it will eventually facilitate, will turn territory under full Israeli jurisdiction into an isolated enclave surrounded by territory under de facto Palestinian Authority control.”
Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Neeman stressed that this incident illustrates the Palestinian Authority’s systematic method of achieving territorial contiguity: “The Batir road is one more attempt to dismantle Israeli sovereignty. The road work must be stopped – yesterday! – and we must prevent the creation of a Palestinian state right under our noses. Protection of Israeli state land and law enforcement against illegal construction, land-grabs and encroachment on our national resources must be at the very top of the list of priorities of every Israeli official.”
Regavim issued two separate alerts in recent days calling for a criminal investigation against the perpetrators who are carrying out the work, and full disclosure of any and all enforcement activity that has been carried out. In light of the urgency of the matter and the pace at which the work on the road is progressing, and after no response was received and no enforcement activity was carried out, Regavim petitioned the High Court of Justice to instruct the Ministry of Defense to apply the relatively new legislation, passed in 2018 and approved by the High Court in recent rulings, that empowers the demolition of new structures.
ז' כסלו התשפ"א - 23 November 2020
Brigadier General Ghassan Alian, Commander of the IDF’s Civil Administration, said at a hearing in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the Palestinian Authority (PA) employs hundreds of people to register real estate in Judea and Samaria – including in Area C, which is under full Israeli control, while the Civil Administration has only about 20 people dealing with this issue.
Alian’s shocking remarks were made in the context of this morning’s (November 23) Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee hearing, chaired by MK Gideon Saar. The hearing, initiated by MKs Uzi Dayan, Moshe Arbel, Yitzhak Pindros and Bezalel Smotrich, examined the renewal of land registration and regulation procedures in Judea and Samaria.
The chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, MK Zvi Hauser, who participated in the hearing, reacted sharply, “This is the what the State of Israel has to show for itself, although for years it has talked about the ‘battle for Area C’ but in practice only a few people are assigned to this issue – despite the fact that the Palestinian Authority has been in a race to seize control and register territory, and some 600 people are employed to do so.”
Meir Deutsch, Director General of the Regavim Movement, who participated in the hearing, says that the data provided by the Civil Administration reflect that the Israeli government’s operational, organizational and moral bankruptcy.
“Land regulation and registration is a complex process that is the responsibility of the sovereign. Aside from the fact that the Palestinian Authority is treating Area C as its own sovereign territory – and there has been no Israeli response to speak of – the shameful inaction of the Israeli government to carry out land registration in Judea and Samaria is a moral failure. In essence, the government is making a statement through this inaction that it is not the sovereign in the area,” Deutsch said.
In 2019, Regavim exposed an internal Civil Administration document that outlined illegal Palestinian Authority land registration activity in Area C of Judea and Samaria, the portion of Judea and Samaria placed under full Israeli jurisdiction under the Oslo Accords.
According to this Civil Administration report, Palestinian Authority land registry efforts date back to at least 2015, and includes ownership inspection procedures, registration of purported ownership of the land in its official land registry, and parcellation of territorial blocks and individual plots of land – including property within the municipal boundaries of Jewish communities.
A report released in June 2017 exposed that “this is a phenomenon spread over thousands of dunams” and that the process “is led by the Palestinian Ministry of Justice and in particular by the Palestinian Land Authority, under the management of Nadim al-Brahami, with funding provided by various European countries.”
In 2009, then-Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad unveiled his plan for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Ever since, driven by European funding and the cynical use of the most vulnerable members of society as pawns, the PA has illegally created facts on the ground.
While the Israeli government has failed to meet this challenge, the PA has fine-tuned it, building some 60,000 illegal structures, commandeering tens of thousands of acres of Israeli state land, and building some 50 illegal schools in Area C.
Strategically-placed schoolhouses are a win-win proposition. If Israeli authorities enforce the law, the media pump out heartbreaking photos of underprivileged children being ‘denied’ an education. If Israel turns a blind eye in order to avoid a black eye, the schools become anchors for new outposts in previously uninhabited – and generally uninhabitable – areas, and more funding pours in to alleviate the humanitarian hardships of these fabricated communities.
At Regavim, we try to prevent such a predicament by identifying the problem early on. We take legal action, put pressure on the authorities, government officials, and raise public and media attention.
A Palestinian state would be a disaster for whoever seeks stability, justice, and prosperity in the region. Besides the huge security and economic threats it would create for Israel, Jewish national and individual rights in Judea & Samaria would be totally disregarded.
Help us in the #BattleforAreaC, in the battle to prevent a judenrein, failed, Palestinian terror state! You can support our efforts with a one-click, online tax-exempt donation here.
One more illegal school joins the rapidly growing roster of similar structures built by the Palestinian Authority at lightning speed. The newest to join the ranks is an illegal school built overnight – literally – in the Jordan Valley.
Regavim, meanwhile, is clear about the problem: “While the Israeli government chatters about sovereignty in the Jordan Valley, the Palestinian Authority is hard at work building a de facto state.”
Last week, the Palestinian Authority put up the latest new school building in the Jordan Valley, in the heart of the sprawling Bedouin hinterland near Al Auja.
Even a cursory look at aerial photos of the area make it clear: The school’s location was carefully chosen as the connecting link between the Bedouin outposts scattered throughout the area, which now form an all new illegal settlement bloc – in Area C (the portion of Judea and Samaria under full Israeli jurisdiction).
The structure is one more case of the Palestinian Authority’s proven method: Dozens of workers arrived at the site in the evening and worked through the night – and by morning, dozens of children were already sitting at their desks.
The bold sign at the entrance announces that the school is run by the Ministry of Education of the State of Palestine.
“The newest illegal school in the Jordan Valley was built at lightning speed, and it was already up and running by the time we spotted it,” says Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim.
“It joins a network of similar structures, among them the new schools in Kisan and Kochav HaShachar that were built in the past month, and more than 50 other illegal schools that have been built this way over the past decade.
“The method is the same each time: Build quickly, and at the same time as the building welcomes its first pupils, petition the High Court of Justice to block law enforcement action at the site.
“In every case, the courts have issued temporary orders that freeze the situation on the ground and bar the authorities from either shuttering or demolishing the structure.
“The problem isn’t that the Civil Administration is unable to enforce the law; the problem is that the Civil Administration has adopted a policy of enabling the construction of these schools.”
The Regavim Movement recently petitioned the Jerusalem District Court against the continued operation of the Beit Fajar quarry in eastern Gush Etzion. The quarry currently spans some 1,500 dunams (1.5 km2) – hundreds of dunams of which are registered state land – and continues to cause irreversible ecological and environmental damage.
Approximately one third of the Beit Fajar quarry is situated on land under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction, which explains why the State of Israel has refrained from enforcing environmental protection regulations there. However, the majority of the quarry is located on land under full Israeli jurisdiction – and hundreds of dunams are registered as state property. Yet there, too, the quarrying carries on, unhindered and unregulated.
Regavim’s attorneys, Avi Segal and Yael Cinnamon, described the gaping “wound” created by the quarry and the irreparable destruction of the landscape, as well as the massive disruption of the delicate ecosystem that has caused irreversible environmental damage, including destruction of wildlife habitats and breeding grounds for unique species of flora and fauna that have developed and thrived in this area over thousands of years.
Regavim first petitioned Israel’s High Court against the quarry a decade ago, when the quarry, and the damage, were still relatively small. Responding to this petition, the government informed the High Court that it had carried out a number of enforcement steps, and was working on a zoning plan for the area that would establish land-use directives for quarrying at the site.
On the basis of the government’s statements and commitments, the High Court rejected Regavim’s petition at that time. Then-Chief Justice Dorit Beinish, who presided over the case, stressed in her judgement that “we are assuming that the enforcement and regulatory actions taken by the respondents will continue, and that the policy that has been formulated will be enforced without interruption.”
Unfortunately, a decade has passed, and not only have the Israeli authorities failed to take any steps to prevent the continued operation of the quarry, they have allowed it to expand by 33%, deepening the invasion of state land by more than 200 dunams beyond its boundaries ten years ago.When repeated inquiries and correspondence on the matter were ignored, Regavim went back to court, filing a petition against Minister of Defense Beni Gantz, Minister of the Environment Gila Gamliel, the IDF Commander of Central Command, the Civil Administration and the Israel Police.
“The environmental damage caused to this area by the inaction of the authorities responsible for law enforcement is staggering, and, sadly, irreparable,” said Regavim’s spokesperson. “The State of Israel has strict regulations for quarrying permits, and owners and operators are required to finance the rehabilitation of quarried areas when they become inoperative in order to minimize the environmental impact – but this policy vanishes when the imaginary line into Judea and Samaria is crossed. Adding insult to injury, when micro-measures are taken to rehabilitate illegal quarries in these areas, they are paid for by Israeli taxpayers, and the criminals who cause the damage simply carry on, rapaciously exploiting the natural resources of the Land of Israel as they scoff at the law and pocket vast profits, without any responsibility for the destruction they leave in their wake.”
Many people submitted a petition in the Jerusalem District Court Wednesday against the Palestinian Authority, which built an illegal school within the Nahal Mahoch Nature Reserve, on state land.
The petition was filed in parallel with Defense Minister Naftali Bennett’s announcement this morning that he would create seven new nature reserves in Judea and Samaria.
The site where the illegal construction was carried out spans some 18,000 dunams (4,450 acres) in the northern Judean Desert, extending from Mount Hatzor to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. The reserve is home to several species of rare flowers such as the Judean iris and the Tulipa agenensis, as well as several rare bird species. The sign posted on the school, which was built with EU funding and other foreign funds, indicates that the structure is owned and owned by the State of Palestine – Ministry of Education and Higher Education.
A photograph was attached to the petition from an official mapping site of the Palestinian Authority, which proves that the PA is well aware that the land is Israeli state land in the heart of a nature reserve.
The petition was resubmitted to the Jerusalem District Court in light of last week’s Supreme Court directive that the proceeding should be held in an administrative court, following the state’s statement that a demolition order was issued in February.
The new petition highlights the disenfranchisement of the enforcement authorities – in light of the fact that since the demolition orders were issued, an entire year has passed, during which the PA was able to complete the construction of the building and accommodate the students for the new school year.
The petitioners are suing the PA for breach of environmental protection laws, invasion of state land, and violation of planning and construction laws.
Meir Deutsch, CEO of the Regavim Movement, said that “Defense Minister Naftali Bennett’s announcement of the declaration of new nature reserves in Judea and Samaria is a welcome and worthwhile step that has not been implemented for years. Bennett’s refreshing change in direction in maintaining Area C shows that there is an important and significant perceptual change here “
“At the same time, the petition demonstrates just how important the actual conservation of nature reserves is, and what the strategic significance of the PA is to take control of its nature reserves and its ambition to do so as far as it wants. Enforcement should look and be done, and one hour earlier,” he added.