The start of a new year gives us a unique opportunity to thank you for your support, encouragement and partnership.
This past year presented a new set of challenges. Lockdowns and social distancing, along with a volatile and exceptionally challenging political environment, forced us to find new, creative solutions in order to continue our important work. Despite it all, we are gratified by the progress we have made and the successes we have had in our fight to protect our national resources.
With your help, we protected our brothers and sisters in Lod and other mixed cities.
Our meticulously researched and carefully crafted strategic plan for the protection of state land in Area C and the Negev has taken center stage in the public discourse.
We successfully blocked highly polluting projects, and more.
All of our activities sent one message, loud and clear: The land of our forefathers – and of our children and grandchildren – is a good and beautiful land.
Throughout the year, and particularly at this time of year, we at Regavim share our success and our vision for the future with you, the partners who make our continued efforts possible. With your help and the help of the Almighty,we look forward to redoubling our efforts and achieving even more in the year ahead.
Our newest report, tracking the Palestinian Authority’s use of illegal schools as a tactic of annexation, has been presented to the government, and will be available in English soon.
Here’s a recent Israel Broadcasting Corp. video about the Negev, the 7th in a series already seen by thousands of Israelis:
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!
For over three years, Regavim has been involved in a legal battle over an illegal school built right next to the Herodion, probably one of Israel’s most important historical sites.
Back in 2018, we petitioned the High Court of Justice against the Civil Administration as the new school was allowed to spring up without permits. A demolition order had been issued, but the Civil Administration took no steps to enforce it. Our petition was rejected because the State had reached an agreement with the construction criminal whereby he would submit a permit request to the Planning and Authorization Subcommittee.
After his request was dismissed, he petitioned the Jerusalem District Court to protest the decision. The Court issued a temporary order to instruct that until a different decision is reached in this case, the Civil Administration would not take enforcement steps against the structure.
Since our 2018 petition was rejected, we consistently questioned the Civil Administration to clarify where the school’s planning and administrative procedures stood. Occasionally, we received partial updates about the legal status of the school.
In March this year, the Civil Administration responded that indeed the permit request submitted by the construction criminal was rejected, yet they are unable to tear down the school because of the temporary order from the District Court.
However, the Civil Administration is simply not telling the truth.
We checked and found that the construction criminal’s petition had already been dismissed, along with the temporary order that had been cancelled, ten days before the Civil Administration’s response. It turns out that there was no legal obstacle in the way of exercising the demolition orders! The Civil Administration didn’t mention this important fact, nor did it take any practical action.
Now, with legal procedures exhausted, we demand that the Civil Administration act immediately to carry out the demolition order against the school – which has expanded over the last year.
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.
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.
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.
In early May, we posted about the Shin Bet’s confirmation that millions of euros were donated to Palestinian terror organizations under the guise of “humanitarian aid” by the EU.
Now, in another dramatic story, the Jerusalem Post’s Lahav Harkov has exposed that the European Union hid a study that noted widespread antisemitic incitement in Palestinian Authority textbooks.
In a report commissioned by the European Union, it was found that teachers and publishers of textbooks in the Palestinian Authority, whose salaries are paid by Brussels, teach the young generation to hate Israel and Jews. Examples include: portrayal of Jews as enemies of Islam, Jihad as a holy mission, accusations that Israel is murdering innocent civilians, lies that Israel is digging underneath the Temple Mount in order to collapse it, and other libelous vitriol. Even in science textbooks, Newton’s laws are taught by depicting a child throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers. And, of course, all the maps completely disregard Israel, referring to the entire area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea as Palestinian territory.
Federica Mogherini, former High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Commission, learned of the uncomfortable findings of this report yet decided to bury them. Mogherini allowed only for a short, unimportant summary to be publicized.
Over the years, the European Union has consistently claimed that it is an ‘honest broker’ in the Israel-Palestinian arena and seeks to bring the two sides together for a negotiated peace. However, funding and then ignoring antisemitic education and inciteful messages is not exactly conducive to those efforts, is it? Regavim has regularly called out the European Union for its hypocrisy, chutzpah, lies, and illegal construction. The EU talks about humanitarian needs, peace, cooperation, etc. But in practice, the Europeans are complicit in illegal activities and encourage terrorism and antisemitism.
Mr Stano reiterated the EU’s official position that supports a two-state ‘solution’ through bilateral negotiations. He also claimed that the European Union is not engaged in illegal activity in Judea & Samaria.
Fact check: Wrong!
Over the years, Regavim has documented EU complicity in mass, illegal construction throughout Judea & Samaria. According to the Oslo Accords, to which the EU is signatory, around 60% of the territory (known as Area C) is under full Israeli jurisdiction. Despite this, thousands of structures that proudly bear the EU symbol are scattered strategically throughout Area C, without receiving the necessary permits. The goal is to create facts on the ground that serve as a backbone for a future Palestinian state, rendering Palestinian negotiations with Israel superfluous. We’ve covered this issue at length in our reports: War of Attrition (2019), Roots of Evil (2018), and EU Construction in Area C (2014).
The EU also rejects the notion that it is funding terrorist activity. Sadly, however, this is not true. Only a couple of days ago, the Shin Bet announced that European “humanitarian” funding has been diverted to terrorism!
Instead of fighting extremism, and despite proclamations to the contrary, EU states contribute significant funds to the Palestinian Authority and its various branches/organizations that incite, reward, and celebrate terrorism.
Even if unintentional, or disguised in European politeness and doublespeak, the EU is violating Jewish national and individual rights in the Land of Israel. This is unacceptable and must be stopped. To the European Union we say – politely, of course: mind your own business!
Under the radar: Palestinian Authority builds a new illegal school in a Jordan Valley nature reserve
Over the past several weeks, the Palestinian Authority built a new illegal school at Hamam al Maliakh, in the Bazak Nature Reserve in the Jordan Valley. Regavim: “The PA builds, the EU funds, and the State of Israel ignores.”
The Palestinian Authority (PA) built a new school in the site of the historic Hamam al Maliakh hot springs, located in the heart of the Jordan Valley’s Bazak Nature Reserve. The site is in Area C, under full Israeli jurisdiction.
Some years ago, an Arab family took over the site, turning the historic structure into a private residence and making structural changes as if it were their personal property.
Now, aside from the illegal invasion and damage to the site, insult has been added to injury: A new school has sprung up at the site in recent weeks, complete with signage announcing that the construction was funded by the European Union and group of European countries – all of which have been playing an increasingly significant role in the PA’s quiet takeover of Area C in recent years.
The new school is adorned with colorful wall murals – as well as tarpaulin sheets that are meant to hide the illegal structure from the eyes of Civil Administration inspectors.
Regavim turned to the Civil Administration, seeking answers: How is it possible that a school was built in the heart of an historic site located in a national nature reserve – and no one did a thing to stop it?
Eitan Melet, Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria, explains: “The Palestinian Authority is playing hide and seek with the Civil Administration. The PA builds “confrontation schools” – illegal schools in Area C – for the purpose of anchoring a network of outposts in Area C. The Palestinians come up with new, inventive ways of camouflaging their activities, and the Civil Administration, either intentionally or unintentionally, continues to fall into the very effective trap that the PA is using over and over again: Once these illegal schools are completed, they create a win-win public relations headache which the Civil Administration hasn’t learned to contend with. The PA appears to be the only team on the playing field.”
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.”