Illegal construction on IDF Training Ground 918

This article first appeared on the JNS Wire.

Through incessant legal and procedural appeals, the PA has upended Israeli law enforcement and set the system against itself, creating facts on the ground and laying the foundations of a Palestinian state in the heart of the land of Israel.

It’s no secret that the system of law in force in Judea and Samaria is far from ideal: In the aftermath of the Six-Day War, the Israeli government balked.

Rather than applying Israeli law to the territory liberated in 1967 — territory that had always been within the internationally recognized borders of the Jewish homeland—Israel chose instead to “temporarily” maintain the existing legal framework. Despite the fact that Jordan’s invasion, occupation and annexation of Judea and Samaria (the areas that it then began to refer to as “the West Bank” as a means of justifying its presence there) were illegal, and were never recognized by the international community, Israel deemed it more prudent not to act on its very solid and exclusive claims to the historic heartland of Israel.

Instead, it left the territory to the mercy of a hodgepodge of legal relics, pasted together with a smattering of military orders, that has continued to hold sway for more than half a century — longer than the Jordanian occupation and the British Mandate combined.

It’s no secret that this outmoded and convoluted system is a gold mine for construction offenders. Nor is it a secret that the Palestinian Authority and its generous European supporters have perfected the art of using this “system” to their advantage.

Antiquated, ineffective and labyrinthine Jordanian regulations have been famously exploited in what is known as “lawfare”: Through incessant legal and procedural appeals, the PA has upended Israeli law enforcement and set the system against itself, creating facts on the ground that are re-drawing the map and laying the foundations of a Palestinian state in the heart of the land of Israel.

Over the past two years, Regavim has filed a number of administrative petitions in the Jerusalem District Court (which serves as the Court for Administrative Affairs) against the Ministry of Defense and the Civil Administration, regarding instances of illegal construction and de facto annexation by the P.A. and its local authorities. Specifically, Regavim’s petitions sought the implementation and execution of the “Order for Removal of New Structures,” military legislation created by the defense establishment in 2018 to cut through the legal and bureaucratic red tape that characterizes “standard enforcement procedures” in Judea and Samaria, the legal quicksand that has made law enforcement virtually non-existent.

Again and again, the state’s lawyers argued for dismissal of Regavim’s petitions on jurisdictional grounds: The New Structures Order, they claimed, does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Administrative Court, and should be heard in the High Court of Justice (HCJ).

But when Regavim petitioned the HCJ to compel the state to enforce the “New Structures Order,” the government’s lawyers argued that the petitions should be dismissed out of hand, because an alternative legal remedy is available — namely, “standard enforcement procedures” arising from the Planning and Construction Code. Even though these alternative legal remedies have not been enforced, the state argued, the proper forum for hearing these cases is … the District Court.

The long and short of it is that the government’s enforcement arm is trying to dodge any and all cases involving its failure to enforce the law — either under the New Structures Order or under the Jordanian Planning and Construction Code, whether in the District Court or in the HCJ.

Avi Segal, Regavim’s attorney, explained: “At issue is a broader question that goes beyond the individual cases. The government is shirking its responsibility to enforce the law. This is a deliberate attempt to create a legal ‘Catch 22’ that will neuter the law and empty it of all meaning, while at the same time limiting the public’s ability to scrutinize and evaluate the state’s continued inaction before a court of law — whatever court that may be.”

In the HCJ hearing on Sept. 13, Justices Anat Baron, Yael Vilner and Ofer Grosskopf had some very pointed criticism for the State Attorney. The justices required the government to provide answers, rather than hiding behind procedural cat-and-mouse jurisdictional arguments.

The court’s decision is quite clear: The state will not be allowed to continue to duck the questions raised by Regavim’s petitions, nor will it be allowed to continue to use the “Catch 22” of jurisdiction to avoid enforcing the law. The state was required to submit, within 60 days, substantive arguments regarding its failure to enact the “Removal of New Structures Order” in these cases.

Furthermore, the state was required to submit, within 60 days, an update on its progress towards amending the “Removal of New Structures Order,” so that the question of jurisdiction is clarified once and for all.

Perhaps this will go down in history as the day that the government was forced to own up to its failure to protect Israel’s interests in Judea and Samaria, and the day that the Israeli version of “Catch 22” began to unravel.

The illegal outpost of Khan al Ahmar; Route 1 can be seen in the background

The Regavim Movement reacted with concern to the state’s response in the Khan al Ahmar case, which was submitted to the High Court this evening.

The government requested an additional six month delay of the deadline to submit its official position to the court in the matter of the illegal outpost on Route 1 slated for demolition over a decade ago. During this additional half-year period, the state intends to submit a confidential document to the court detailing all the considerations that impact the enforcement of demolition orders at the site.

Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim, sharply criticized the state’s response, and the conduct of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

“From the first day of the current government’s term, we have stressed that deeds, not words, are what count,” Deutsch said. “Today it has become clear that contrary to its oft-repeated declarations, this government is continuing along the dangerous trajectory set by its predecessor, conducting its law enforcement system according to the whims of foreign governments.”

“The root of anarchy is selective, preferential law enforcement. No sector or segment of the population should enjoy immunity from law enforcement because of international pressure while the law is enforced against other sectors.”

Regavim noted that in earlier responses to the High Court, the state explained that law enforcement at Khan al Ahmar would be postponed for fear that this would trigger proceedings in the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

“This conduct broadcasts a very problematic message to the world, intimating that the State of Israel is a guest in this territory when in fact Judea and Samaria have been under internationally-recognized Israeli jurisdiction for a longer period of time than the British Mandate and the Jordanian occupation combined,” noted Deutsch.

“The time has come for the State of Israel to exercise its rights to this territory, and to behave in a manner befitting the sovereign body responsible for law enforcement in the area according to international law and in accordance with the historic right of the State of Israel to the territories of Judea and Samaria.”

It took a mere 12 months for the Palestinian Authority to build this enormous, impressive, and illegal school in Kisan, eastern Gush Etzion.

As soon as construction was underway, we petitioned the Jerusalem District Court – since the Israeli authorities did absolutely nothing to prevent yet another land grab. In response to our petition, the State representatives told the judges that Stop Work Orders and demolition orders had been issued against the illegal structure, however they refused to commit to a timetable of when the law would be enforced. Unfortunately, the Court accepted the State’s claims and rejected our petition.

The months passed by, construction was completed, and students are now pouring into the school.

We promised not to allow the story to end this way, so we’ve decided to file another petition with the Court. Rather than rewarding illegal activity, the State should be made to close down the school!

This school is merely one example of a widespread phenomenon. Recently, we published – in Hebrew – a comprehensive report about illegal, PA-built schools in Area C. The English version should be available in the nearby future. Our report reveals that, over the last decade, the Palestinian Authority has built 100 (!) schools without permits in strategic areas.

You might be thinking: ‘These schools are crucial for the education of Palestinian schoolchildren!’ But no. Our data indicates that these schools are no humanitarian necessity; they were quickly set up, without permits, in order to advance the Fayyad plan. The density in PA schools (313 students on average per school) is lower than in Israeli schools (337 students on average per school) and much lower than the density in schools in Jordan (476.9 students on average).

An analysis of our data also proves that these new schools weren’t built to compensate for problems of long distances. All of the schools, without exception, were established between a few hundred meters to three kilometers from already-existing schools.

You see, the PA knows all too well that Israel is unlikely to knock down the illegal schools. 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.

On a daily basis, the PA works to change the map, seizing strategic points throughout the territory. We call on the State of Israel to internalize, once and for all, that in the BattleforAreaC it has a right, responsibility, and a national interest to prevent illegal Palestinian construction. Time to wake up, before a de-facto Palestinian terror state is established in Israel’s heartland!

In June, we told our followers on social media about a massive industrial structure that was built illegally next to the village of Kifl Haris in central Samaria. The structure poses a safety threat to drivers on Route 5, the highway that connects the Jordan Valley to Israel’s center and Gush Dan.

We approached the Civil Administration twice to urgently demand enforcement steps against the structure and its builders. As you probably guessed, on both occasions we received the classic response: enforcement would be carried out “in accordance with established enforcement priorities”.

However, the criminals weren’t interested in the CA’s “enforcement priorities” and finished the construction within six months. The industrial structure sprawls over 4.5 dunams (!), and has been hooked up to electricity. The whole area around it was paved with asphalt, and more surrounding structures are under construction.

Last week, we came to check out the situation on the ground and found that Civil Administration officials had hung up Stop Work Orders on the structure. Right after construction was completed!

We have a request for the Civil Administration and Defense Minister Benny Gantz: explain what on earth you were thinking! Why put up Stop Work Orders on a structure where work has already finished?!

Regavim is considering its next steps. We can’t be sure that the CA will enforce anything, so we may have to file a petition with the Courts. Maybe then the “enforcement authorities” would be forced to awaken from their slumber.

The enormous illegal structure

Illegal construction has plagued the area of Yakir, an Israeli community in Samaria, and the junction near its entrance. We know about it all too well, as does the Civil Administration. Down the years, shops have been built illegally, one after another, next to the main road, leading to traffic accidents going in and out of the junction.

In recent weeks, we noticed that Arab residents from nearby towns began building another structure without permits. Not only is the structure in Area C, the section of Judea and Samaria under full Israeli jurisdiction, it’s also in a ‘no-construction zone’, where construction of all sorts is not allowed.

But this isn’t about one structure. Over three years ago, we approached the Civil Administration a number of times about the widespread phenomenon of illegal businesses at the junction, and we even went to the High Court of Justice. Unfortunately, the High Court decided not to intervene in the CA’s decisions, and no proper enforcement was carried out on the ground. Occasionally, there were minor demolitions, but the shops quickly re-opened.

A drone image of the junction near Yakir in Samaria

It’s safe to say that the Civil Administration hasn’t managed to create enough of a deterrent against illegal construction in the area. Construction criminals have added more and more structures, in total disregard of the CA and the Israeli authorities.

Now, we’ve headed back to the Civil Administration – this time regarding the new structure. We’ve demanded the use of an “Order for Demolition of New Structures”, as per legislation from 2018 that was approved by the High Court in recent rulings. The legislation empowers the demolition of new, illegal structures in Judea and Samaria within 96 hours.

We’ve yet to receive an answer from the CA. This case will test whether the CA turns a blind eye to law enforcement even in such extreme and dangerous circumstances.

We’ll keep you posted.

Yesterday, the Jerusalem Municipality and Israeli security forces tore down the illegal business complex at the north-eastern entrance to Jerusalem. The busy road going into the city can now be widened, which is sure to ease the traffic that drivers have become accustomed to near Hizma.

Every day, hundreds of thousands of Jewish and Arab residents who drive past Hizma suffer from the heavy traffic caused by the illegal complex. The complex also caused huge environmental damage because of waste disposal and misconduct of goods. And due to the proximity to the security fence, the businesses also provided a security threat.

Recently, we told you about the hearing on our petition at the Jerusalem District Court. During the hearing, a representative of the Ministry of Defense presented a secret enforcement plan to the judges while no one else was in the room. Our impression was that the Court reviewed the plan seriously, thus we agreed to pull our petition. However, we protested the decision to postpone enforcement at the complex, and demanded that the authorities implement the plan, in line with their promise to the Court.

Yesterday, the State finally fulfilled its promises and demolished a significant part of the complex. It’s a shame, however, that this case had to reach the Courts instead of the State enforcing the law straight away, when the first illegal business opened up.

The Binyamin Regional Council can now go ahead with their plan to add more lanes to the road, improving the lives of all the region’s residents.

We’re satisfied with this success, and will continue to advocate for law and order, equal enforcement and equal protection under the law as our only bulwark against chaos – now and always. To support our activities, make an online, tax-deductible donation here.

Following a petition we filed to the High Court of Justice against the Civil Administration, an illegal structure at an archaeological site in Samaria was removed. The CA was also charged with the expenses of the legal process.

A few months ago, we noticed an Arab invasion of Israeli state land at Khirbet Khurkosh, an archaeological site near the city of Ariel in Samaria.

Regavim alerted the authorities six (!) times to enforce the law, but work continued at the site – as part of the #BattleforAreaC. We petitioned the High Court to instruct the authorities to implement legislation from 2018 regarding the demolition of new structures.

During the court hearing, the Civil Administration told the judges that the structure’s owner, Falastin Musa Ahmad Abu Eid, received an interim order from the High Court that froze the enforcement process. However, the CA officials promised that once the interim order would expire, the new legislation would be applied in this case.

Despite this, and despite the Court fining the CA (essentially blaming them for the situation), the construction criminals continued to build at the site.

So we pressured the CA (again) to enforce the law, and finally, yesterday morning, forces came to tear down the structure.

We congratulate the CA for doing its job properly, but we are troubled by the fact that the authorities woke up only after Regavim’s petition and after the Court fined the CA. The whole point of the 2018 legislation is to facilitate and shorten the enforcement process, allowing for the demolition of new structures within days rather than months!

The Civil Administration doesn’t like public criticism and scrutiny, but in this case, their failure to act swiftly must be noted. It’s no wonder that the CA has proven incapable in the face of the strategic, systematic takeover of Area C and the open spaces in Judea & Samaria.
**
On our part, we’ll continue to monitor matters on the ground, throughout the Land of Israel, and to protect Israel’s resources and preserve its sovereignty. If you would like to support our activities, make an online, tax-deductible donation here.

Fake News and Antisemitism in European and World Media

A recently-aired episode of  ABC Australia’s ‘Foreign Correspondent’ program titled ‘The Sinking Sea‘ presented visually stunning images that conveyed a sense of loss for a major geographic feature of the Middle Eastern landscape. The video documentary by Eric Tlozek, outgoing ABC Middle East correspondent, focusee on the demise of the Dead Sea caused by the diminished supply of its tributary waters.

Mr. Tlozek’s tenure as ABC’s Middle East correspondent followed a long line of ABC journalists, including Sophie McNeill, who have faithfully pushed the ABC’s anti-Israel agenda; in fact, Ms. McNeill will be the keynote speaker at the Australian Palestinian Advocacy Network’s annual dinner this month. Apparently, Mr. Tlozek and Ms. McNeill share more than an entry on their respective CVs.

The first 13 minutes of ‘The Sinking Sea’ take us on a look at the vast, rapid changes that have been caused by the “drying up” of the Dead Sea, through the eyes of geologists who have made this issue their life’s work. The subject is weighty, and the scholarly opinions have a strong impact, lending Tlozek’s presentation a veneer of scientific objectivity. Unfortunately, it soon becomes evident that this factual introduction is nothing more than a ploy to lure unsuspecting viewers in to what comes after the 13 minute mark. Tlozek shifts the focus upstream to the Jordan Valley, where the waters that feed into the Dead Sea continue to be illegally diverted for human use. Tlozek’s entire documentary of the Dead Sea’s woes then is revealed as being nothing more than the backdrop for a web of blood libels against Israel: The next 20 minutes or so are used to imply that the Israeli “occupation” and Israeli “settlers” are to blame for water shortages and the cataclysmic shifts in the landscape around the Dead Sea, a result of the dispossession of the “indigenous” Palestinian population” – without mentioning that Jews have lived in that area for nearly 4,000 years.

Before addressing the blatant falsehoods which Tlozek includes in his “documentary” it is perhaps even more important to consider what is not included: the questions that were not answered because they were not asked.

One point that was strangely obscured, and only mentioned in the last minute of the piece, is the very first question any journalist should have asked, but this journalist didn’t, apparently because it did not suit his political agenda: What actually caused the Dead Sea’s problems? When did the downward spiral begin? Although Tlozek never comes straight out with it, by inference Israeli “settlers” in the Jordan Valley are portrayed as the cause of the death of the Dead Sea; no mention whatsoever is made of the construction of dams and the rerouting of the waters of the Jordan River in the 1950s — when Jordan still (illegally) occupied Judea and Samaria. The Degania Dam in northern Israel (which enabled the development of Israeli agriculture and provided the life source for the entire Israeli economy), coupled with the massive Jordanian abuse of both the tributary waters and the Dead Sea itself, are not given a moment’s consideration, presumably because they cannot be blamed on the “evil” post-1967 settlers. There is also no mention of the fact that in a central pillar of the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty signed in 1994 Israel agreed to give Jordan 50,000,000 cubic metres (1.8×109 cu ft) of water each year — and for Jordan to own 75% of the water from the Yarmouk River. Since that time -– and despite Jordan’s complete inflexibility on other elements of the treaty where compromise and negotiation were written into the accords (such as extending the lease to Naharayim and Tzofar) -– Jordan has repeatedly requested and received even greater water allocations, further depleting the Dead Sea tributaries.

Tlozek also failed to mention that when the Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee), which is full today precisely because of the Degania Dam, enjoys another season of heavy rainfall, or if the planned Israel-Jordan desalination project comes to fruition, the dam will be opened and water will once again flow to the Dead Sea, restoring (at least in part) the water and salination levels. Lastly, honest reporting of the situation would have at least mentioned that throughout history, the water and salinity of the Dead Sea have fluctuated, and the current situation may be part of a much larger ecosystem cycle. In fact, similar environmental phenomena are occurring in many other inland seas around the globe, including such as the Caspian, Urmia, and Great Salt Lake – and no Israeli settlers have been blamed … yet.

Now let’s consider what the “documentary” did, in fact, present as fact, beginning with the very damning and specific claims by and about the residents of Kardala. Let’s start at the most basic, most accessible level — where any primary school pupil would begin if they were interested in getting information: Wikipedia. The entry on Kardala, written by the Palestinian Authority in 2017, puts the population of this “village” at 200 people in 2010; to have achieved a population of over 1000 people in only a decade, as stated in the documentary,  would have been nothing short of miraculous, particularly since the number of structures on the ground in the village has remained more or less constant since the Wikipedia entry was penned (some 24 structures all told — hardly capable of housing over one thousand residents). The Wikipedia entry also states: “There are no schools or health centers in the village.” I remind you that this is as of 2017. The villagers’ claim, accepted as fact by Mr. Tlozek, that the school, and the road that accesses it, are “decades old” is an outright fabrication.

Aerial view of Kardala, 2018: No school, no road
Aerial view of Kardala, 2021: Presto – the “decades old” school and access road appear

These truths about Kardala — irrefutable facts — are borne out by satellite photos available to anyone interested in obtaining them, either from the Palestinian Authority’s website or from the open-source Israeli government map site (govmap.gov.il). Attached are two images downloaded from the latter: an aerial view of Kardala, marking the school and road mentioned in the documentary, in 2020 — and the exact same view in 2018, where there is no school, no road. On the same website, you can access historic maps of the area; a map created by the British Mandatory mapping division in 1935 shows “Khirbet Kardala” — the ancient ruins at Kardala — with no settlement of any kind nearby.

The land surrounding this newborn village has been developed for agricultural use at an astounding rate in recent years, and this is neither a coincidence nor the result of the ingenuity and talent of the local farmers: The Palestinian Authority long ago slated this crucial area for takeover and has poured tremendous resources into illegal activity designed to support the very same specious claims presented by Tlozek in the ABC documentary. This includes creating a system through which water is siphoned off from the Israeli national water grid and piped to the fields for irrigation — a practice so widespread that Jewish communities —  where citizens pay a premium price for their water — have major problems with water pressure that actually result in their having NO water in summer months due to uncontrolled pressure drops; reflux contamination and salination caused by sub-standard piping systems used to steal water, and more. The PA uses European funding to cultivate more and bigger tracts of Israeli state land every year, a well-known exploitation of the loophole in the Ottoman Land Law (still in force in these territories) that grants rights to anyone who uses land for agricultural purposes for a period of several years, whether they own it or not.

This illuminates some of the additional questions that were not addressed by Mr. Tlosek: While the man speaking for the residents of Kardala solemnly explains that the Israelis provide only one third of the water that is actually needed to support the population and agricultural projects of the village, the question should be, how was this water allocation determined, and how are the actual water needs of this population determined? In other words, how much water does each Palestinian in this region need, and how many people are we talking about?

Ahh, therein lies the rub – or a number of rubs, one might say: The case of Kardala is illustrative of some of the most well-concealed elements of what has come to be known as the battle for Area C, the section of Judea and Samaria placed under full Israeli jurisdiction under the Oslo Accords.  The Palestinian Authority invests tremendous resources in moving population into Area C – people who are actually residents of Areas A and B, the portion of Judea and Samaria placed under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction by the Oslo Accords. PA Prime Minister Mohammad a-Shtayyeh announced special grants and tax incentives for any PA residents willing to relocate to Area C Jordan Valley “communities” and even greater incentives for agricultural work. The PA invests untold millions of euros of European taxpayer “humanitarian aid” to initiate massive, unsustainable agricultural projects in desert areas under Israeli jurisdiction in order to take control, physically, of ever-expanding swaths of territory. It goes to tremendous lengths to pad population “statistics” – allowing people born abroad who have never set foot in the Middle East to register as residents of Area C, failing to remove deceased residents from the rolls, and double-counting people who live in Area A or B.

Another well-documented practice is the gerrymandering of the boundary lines of existing communities in Areas A and B to connect with illegal structures it builds in Area C – and then “redefining” the entire complex as Area C, in order to churn out ever-rising population figures. This appears to be the case with the village of Kardala, located in Area C but connected to the older Area B village of Bardala. In this way, all the residents of both “villages” – actually one village under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction and an adjacent cluster of 24 structures that have sprung up on land under Israeli jurisdiction – are now counted as residents of Area C. All told, Kardala and Bardala may or may not have more than 1000 residents – but by conflating the data for the two, the PA has managed to re-brand the residents of a village fully under its own jurisdiction as part of the (fictitious) burgeoning population of Palestinians living in Area C, and turn them into the responsibility of the Israeli government. Essentially, it is a shell game played with people, the same people who one minute are under PA jurisdiction, but with a flick of the wrist, the wink of an eye, a bit of creativity and a cooperative “journalist”, suddenly become residents of a ‘historic ‘Area C village of thousands of residents who are ostensibly being killed by water deprivation at the hands of what is described as a cruel occupation regime and the rapacious settlers that do its bidding.

This is nonsense at best, mendacious falsehood bordering on blood libel at worst.

The allocation of water to Palestinian residents under Israeli jurisdiction was determined in the framework of the Oslo Accords according to population size. Simply put, there would be no water crisis if Europe and the PA would not have orchestrated a large-scale migration of people into Area C for political purposes. The utter evisceration of the Oslo Accords became official, publicly declared PA policy in 2009 (“The Fayyad Plan”), and with the help of the European Union has systematically executed this policy ever since, manipulating populations and re-drawing the map of Judea and Samaria through illegal construction and agricultural and infrastructure projects.

Another question that might have been asked by an honest journalist is, what options are there to alleviate this crisis? Israel provides the Palestinian Authority approximately 70 million cubic meters per year of water to the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank”) alone, not including the Gaza Strip, even though the Water Agreement signed in the Oslo framework allocates a much smaller quantity of only 23.6 MCM/year (for the ‘West Bank’ alone). If the PA so desired, the residents of the “village” of Kardala could easily be living in Bardala and enjoying sufficient water supplies. Similarly, the housing needs of all Palestinians currently living in illegal structures on Israeli state land throughout Area C could easily be met if the PA invested its resources in development and construction in the areas under its jurisdiction, Areas A and B, where there is no threat of demolition, confiscation of equipment or materials, and no need for Israeli permits. Regavim’s recent study of the availability and utilization of land resources in Judea and Samaria found that over 60% of land resources under PA jurisdiction remain available.  Rather than using its resources to improve the lives of its people, the PA instead chooses to divert all its resources into illegal, politically motivated projects that are designed to wrest control of as much land as possible away from Israeli jurisdiction.

Agenda-driven journalism is not journalism. It is propaganda, and cannot stand up to the daylight of facts. Let the consumer of propaganda – and its victims – beware.

This article first appeared in the Gatestone Institute.

To learn more about these issues, see Regavim’s “Roots of Evil” report and the comprehensive report on the progress of the Fayyad Plan to establish a de facto Palestinian state in Area C, “The War of Attrition.” Both reports, and additional materials, can be accessed here.

Illegal construction in Nahalin

We’ve been in the business of protecting Israel’s land resources for many years, but this episode is something we’ve never encountered before. In one of our recent legal cases, the Jerusalem District Court accepted the Civil Administration’s narrative, despite its neglectful conduct, and decided to hit Regavim with a 10,000 shekels fine!

Let’s start from the beginning.

A year ago, we told you about the illegal expansion of the Nahalin village in Gush Etzion. The moment the new plots began to be developed (illegally!), we recognized the threat posed to the nearby community of Rosh Tzurim, which is being choked.

We approached the Civil Administration, an official enforcement body of the State of Israel that must act in accordance with the law, to demand law enforcement at the site. However, the CA didn’t do much. Inspectors came to the site and hung up stop work orders, but construction continued relentlessly. The orders were completely ignored, and the area is now an illegal, Arab neighborhood.

After we sent more alerts to the authorities and didn’t receive any proper responses, we filed a petition with the Jerusalem District Court against the Civil Administration. As usual, the CA told the judges that enforcement at the site would happen “in accordance with established enforcement priorities”. This was not surprising.

However, this time, instead of criticizing the CA for not doing its job, the Court bought the excuse of “enforcement priorities”! Our petition was rejected, and we were charged with the expenses, a hefty fine totaling ₪10,000.

****
The Civil Administration’s goal is to exhaust Regavim, and to make us relinquish our efforts. You see, CA officials don’t really like it when we submit petitions and alerts, and when we present their deficiencies in the media and elsewhere. The CA prefers to deflect public criticism, attempting to hide their failures.

With each petition we file, we know that there is a chance that it will be rejected. But we are always guided by the importance of our mission, first and foremost: the protection of Israel’s resources and preservation of sovereignty. If Regavim didn’t exist, the situation on the ground would be much worse.

We call on you, our friends and supporters in Israel and abroad, to help us cover the costs. In order to continue our Zionist activities, and to point out the shortcomings of Israel’s enforcement bodies, we need your help. Make an online, tax-deductible donation here.

Aerial map of Nahalin; numbers indicate illegal structures
Illegal construction throughout Area C

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: Protecting Israel’s Resources, Preserving Israeli Sovereignty