Aerial image of plots in south Rahat intended for the Abu Quider clan

Today (Wednesday, 8 June) the Supreme Court denied a petition filed by the Rahat Municipality – neutralizing one more attempt to sabotage the relocation of thousands of Bedouin squatters and the regulation of Bedouin settlement in the Negev. Regavim: “The Bedouin leadership itself is throwing the monkey-wrench into the works and obstructing the regulation process.”

Earlier today (Wednesday), the High Court of Justice (HCJ) rejected a petition submitted by the Rahat Municipality against the State’s decision to allocate plots of land in a new neighborhood for resettlement of members of the Abu Quider clan who have been squatting illegally on privately-owned land. The government decision to develop a new neighborhood in Rahat for this clan was taken many years ago, but has languished, unimplemented, ever since.

More than three decades have passed since an agreement between the Bedouin Authority and representatives of the Abu Quider tribe was signed. The plan was to resettle squatters in permanent housing in Rahat, but it was opposed by the municipality, which claimed that the land in question was needed for “natural growth” of the existing population of Rahat who would be at an unfair disadvantage if the Abu Quider agreement is upheld. Over the years, in the context of attempts to reach a compromise through mediation, Rahat’s municipal lines were expanded – at the expense of the neighboring Bnei Shimon Regional Council – in order to set aside plots for “natural growth;” the cost to the Israeli taxpayer was hundreds of millions of shekels.

Today’s HCJ decision refuted the Rahat Municipality’s claims that the resettlement agreement with the Abu Quider clan would result in discriminate against the residents of Rahat or create inequality. The Court determined that the steps taken by the Bedouin Authority were all fully within its purview; the Bedouin Authority has both the authority and the responsibility to develop new neighborhoods for the resettlement of squatters. The judicial panel, headed by Judge Khaled Kabub, was “unconvinced” that the authorities’ behavior was disproportionate to the extent that judicial intervention was required. At the same time, the Court upheld the State’s argument that Rahat’s land reserves are sufficient to meet the needs of natural growth for decades to come.

The decision clears the last remaining obstacle to the relocation of the squatters into the city and the return of the land commandeered by the Abu Quider clan to its rightful owners. It should be noted that Regavim and the legal owners of the land upon which the Abu Quider squatters continue to live petitioned the HCJ a decade ago. The legal process for that petition, which dragged on for years, resulted in a High Court decision that required the evacuation of the squatters and the return of the stolen land to its legal owners – but did not make specific demands upon the State to take action, due to the Rahat Municipality’s objections.

“Abu-Sahiban, the mayor of Rahat, is doing everything in his power to sabotage resettlement and regulation efforts,” says Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim. “During the long years of legal procrastination, the Rahat Municipality has extorted more and more land and ever-expanding development budgets with one hand, while with the other hand it has obstructed the state’s regulation efforts. Today, the High Court finally put an end to this. We hope to soon see the land in al-Zarnug returned to its rightful owners.”

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.

The illegal Bedouin outpost of Khan al Ahmar near Kfar Adumim

High Court issues conditional order: We are forced to move toward a conclusion in the matter of Khan al Ahmar

This evening (Sunday) the High Court of Justice issued a conditional order in the most recent round of the Khan al Ahmar case. Tonight’s order, giving the government 120 days to explain its failure to fulfill the three-year old commitment to enforce the law “in the near future,” follows the government’s most recent request for an additional postponement:

“In light of the frequent requests for extensions and postponements, some of which were justified but most of which were less so; and in light of the amount of time that this petition has been pending, nearly three years; and in light of the fact that this ‘saga’ has been unfolding since 2009 when demolition orders were issued … we are forced at this juncture to take a further step toward a conclusion, by issuing a conditional order.”

The Regavim Movement, petitioner in the ongoing battle over the illegal encampment in the Adumim region, reacted to the new order: “The fact that we have been forced to petition the High Court of Justice again and again in order to compel the government to enforce the law is bad enough. Even worse is the government repeatedly giving a commitment to the High Court that it will enforce the law – and then failing to do so. It is not the job of the judicial branch to bail the executive branch out of the mess it’s made.”

The illegal outpost of Khan al Ahmar near Kfar Adumim

Israeli government asks High Court for an additional 30 days in the Khan al Ahmar case “due to the Prime Minister’s intensive involvement in the military crisis in Europe.” Regavim: “We may petition for a summary judgement.”

This evening (Tuesday) the state’s attorney requested an additional 30-day extension, in order to enable “the most senior levels of government, particularly the Prime Minister, to weigh in on this matter.”

The government had been required to respond to Regavim’s most recent High Court of Justice petition no later than this past Sunday (6 March 2022), but as the deadline approached the state requested a 48-hour extension. As this extension runs out, the state has requested an additional postponement, this time for 30 days. The request, submitted in a deposition signed by the Director of the National Security Council Eyal Hulata, claimed that the reason for the latest request was “circumstances that have arisen in the sphere of international diplomacy, including the Prime Minister’s involvement in the European military crisis.”

The Regavim Movement reacted to this latest request for postponement: “To the best of our knowledge, Prime Minister Bennett has returned from his trip to Europe, and as far as excuses go, this one is exceptionally flimsy. We are considering requesting a summary judgement.”

The illegal outpost of Khan al Ahmar, next to Route 1

Regavim first petitioned the High Court of Justice over a decade ago for the evacuation of Khan al Ahmar, the illegal squatters’ camp encroaching on Route 1 and the Jewish community of Kfar Adumim.

This evening, Amit Segal reported on Channel 12 News that the Bennett-Lapid government intends to relocate the squatters a mere 300 meters (330 yards) away from their current location.

This hare-brained scheme, hatched by the Ministry of Defense, will turn the Palestinian Authority’s flagship outpost in Judea and Samaria into a permanent, recognized Palestinian settlement.

The PA targeted this point on the map precisely because of its critical strategic value as the link between Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jericho – an area where there is no Palestinian Arab presence. Enabling the takeover and de facto annexation of this strategic location will be a fiasco for the security and strategic integrity of the State of Israel.

The Israeli government invested millions, preparing an alternative location for relocation of Khan al Ahmar on Israeli state land in Jahalin West, but the relocation of the squatters has been stalled solely due to European pressure.

It is inconceivable that the very same members of this government who repeatedly attacked Netanyahu for his failure to evacuate the squatters of Khan al Ahmar are now responsible for this bizarre, pathetic alternative – one that is far worse in every way.

The planned relocation will do little to improve the lives of the squatters, but it will set a dangerous precedent of state-sanctioned annexation for the dozens of illegal squatters’ camps throughout the region that were established according to the Khan al Ahmar model.

Jahalin West: the relocation site that remains ready and waiting for the squatters of Khan al Ahmar

In November, we posted about dozens of staffing allocations for Civil Administration inspectors supposed to fight the #BattleforAreaC that have been reassigned to other CA tasks. So even in cases where private Jewish lands are seized by Arabs, the authorities are busy with other things. And what about the rule of law? Forget about it.

In 1979, Moshe Zar, a prominent land dealer in Judea and Samaria, began to purchase lands through a Jordanian company that he founded (because of the law that prevents individual Jews from buying land in Judea and Samaria). For around three years, he used his hard-earned savings to buy thousands of dunams.

In the last few months, our field coordinator, along with the Samaria Regional Council’s Land Division, was shocked to discover an extensive invasion of Moshe Zar’s lands. Every month, the illegal construction projects are gaining ground – quite literally – under the unwatchful eyes of the Israeli authorities.

In order to protect Zar’s property rights, we sent an urgent letter to the Civil Administration in which we demanded quick and critical enforcement action against the illegal construction.

This is the response we received: “Enforcement and supervision will be taken in accordance with procedures, and the implementation of enforcement will be determined in line with established enforcement priorities and subject to operational considerations.” However, up until this very day, no enforcement has been carried out, no equipment or vehicles have been confiscated, and the construction projects have only expanded.

Recently, we went on a field tour of the Adumim region (E1) with Tribe Journal to see up close the illegal Arab takeover of the territory. Naomi Kahn, Director of Regavim’s International Division, explained how the Bedouin are being used as pawns by the Palestinian Authority to create facts on the ground, in accordance with the Fayyad plan.

Over a decade ago, then-Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority Salam Fayyad outlined his vision for a future Palestinian state throughout Judea and Samaria. The strategic, meticulous, well-funded, EU-backed plan seeks to take control of Area C, the section of Judea and Samaria under Israeli jurisdiction, and unilaterally establish a de-facto Palestinian state.

Israeli governments have failed to offer an adequate response to this strategic threat. Through various activities, Regavim and others are working hard to change the tide and help the Israeli government begin to win the Battle for Area C.

Learn more in the video >>

Illegal structures in the Adumim region (E1)

This morning (Monday), the Knesset Land of Israel Caucus held a hearing focusing on the battle for Judea and Samaria.

Meir Deutsch, Director General of the Regavim Movement, shared updated data upon which Regavim based its recently-released precise map of Area C. The satellite mapping project revealed the alarming situation on the ground: From 2019 -2021, the Palestinians built 5097 new illegal structures in areas under full Israeli jurisdiction, an average of 7 new illegal structures per day. These new structures joined the already-staggering tally of illegal construction, for a total of 72,274 illegal structures in Area C.

On a parallel track, during the same two-year period the Palestinian Authority used agricultural projects to seize control of 7,125 dunams of Israeli state land, for a total of 93,071 dunams (93,071,000 square meters or 23,268 acres).

By planting hundreds of thousands of trees in the undeveloped open spaces of Area C, creating agricultural roads spanning dozens of kilometers each year, digging wells, cisterns and water delivery and irrigation systems, the Palestinian continues to exploit a loophole in Ottoman Land Law, still in force in Judea and Samaria, to wrest land rights from the State of Israel and establish de facto Palestinian control.

While the newly-released data indicate a slight reduction in the rate of illegal Palestinian construction compared to the previous two-year period, when 7,957 illegal structures were built (an average of 11 per day), the rate of agricultural land-grabs has remained virtually unchanged.

Regavim explained the lower rate of construction coupled with a steady rate of agricultural annexation as the result of the European Union’s decision to shift its funding away from illegal construction in order to focus on two alternative tracks: “lawfare” to prevent enforcement against new and existing illegal structures, and agricultural projects that achieve much greater territorial gains with far smaller financial investment.

“The Palestinian Authority is drawing the lines of the State of Palestine and presenting Israel with immutable facts on the ground. This is a strategic challenge of the first order, and one that Israel’s governments have done virtually nothing to address. It is a policy failure of a magnitude not seen since the Yom Kippur War,” said Deutsch.

Enforcement in Judea and Samaria

We got our hands on the information that we worked so hard to receive, finally. The news is upsetting, but it’s important for everyone to know. Israel’s Ministry of Defense has admitted that it has two different levels of enforcement in Judea and Samaria: one for Jews, and one for Arabs. We’ll let you guess where the enforcement is more heavy-handed.

For many months, we’ve been awaiting answers from the Ministry of Defense about the enforcement guidelines that are exercised in Judea and Samaria. Thanks to the petition that we filed, the Ministry was forced to admit that it’s not exactly ‘neutral’. Illegal Arab structures – in; illegal Jewish structures – out.

There’s no equality here, just plain racism. “Israeli construction that invades private land” is at the top of the enforcement priorities list, while “Arab construction that invades private land” is at the bottom of the list.

There are 60,000 illegal Arab structures in Judea and Samaria. 60,000! The law can and should be implemented against them, yet the Ministry of Defense allows the law enforcement bodies to turn a blind eye.

We demand that the Ministry of Defense assembles one list with all its enforcement priorities – to allow for equal, transparent, and fair management of its policies.