When you repeat a lie so many times, it becomes the accepted truth. That’s a tactic the international media and left-wing NGOs have been implementing in the last few days. They’ve been making a lot of noise about a Bedouin ‘village’ in the Jordan Valley that was torn down by Israel — again.

For the sixth time in a year, a number of tents and pens in so-called Khirbet Humsa were removed by the Civil Administration last week, setting the Pallywood machine into full motion, as customary. Israel was portrayed as the evil oppressor that denies poor Bedouin a life of safety and security, blah blah.

But the story is a little more complex.

In an area that has been an active IDF live-fire zone since 1972, Bedouins set up camp in 2010. To prevent their removal from the site, the Bedouins appealed three times (in April & July 2011, and in November 2014) to the High Court of Justice. Each time, the appellants invoked a new excuse – Ramadan, the weather, who knows what – to try to cling onto the land. The appeals were all rejected, and the illegal outpost has been dismantled and re-erected a number of times since the High Court rulings. Anti-Israel groups, foreign media outlets and governments are loving it.

Yet as our satellite images show, in 2008 there was nothing there! In 2013, an image of the same point shows only one structure, and in 2019 there were already a number of EU-funded structures.

It’s a game. The IDF removes the structures, left-wing “human rights” activists come along with their cameras, and then PA officials come to rebuild the “structures” (more like tents). In the meantime, the vulnerable population that lives there is being exploited cynically by the PA. The Palestinian Authority would serve these people better by enabling them to live somewhere legal, somewhere no Israeli permits are required, such as the 63% of Areas A and B that are completely empty and available for whatever use they choose.

But no. Because this is a political issue.

Bedouin are sent to seize strategic locations in Judea and Samaria, lured by various benefits, often placed in tough and dangerous conditions. It’s a win-win situation for the PA. If the Bedouin manage to consolidate their settlement, it’s a successful land grab! And if they’re kicked out by Israel – false narratives can be peddled through the international media, and Israel can be painted as the evil denier of rights, etc.

Don’t fall prey to the Palestinians’ propaganda. Please help us get the truth out. We don’t expect anti-Semites to be convinced by facts, but regular, fair-minded, truth-seeking people around the world deserve to know the full facts and history. Share this article.

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.

The squatters’ highway in April 2021

The Squatters’ Highway: How the PA connects illegal encampments in Area C to the villages of Area B

The Palestinian Authority has blazed a new illegal trail through the Jordan Valley, connecting the towns of Taysir and Tubas in Area B to its network of illegal outposts in Area C. Regavim: “The Palestinian Authority continues to carry out its masterplan for territorial contiguity in the Jordan Valley, and the State of Israel continues to allow it.”

In recent months, the Palestinian Authority has invested massive human and financial resources to create a new illegal road connecting the large Arab villages of Taysir and Tubas in eastern Samaria with the network of illegal outposts near the Jewish communities of Ro’i and Beqaot and the IDF bases of the Jordan Valley.

The Regavim Movement has been tracking, documenting and warning the authorities about the project for many months: The PA began work on the illegal “squatters’ highway” in Area C as early as November last year. Initially, paving materials were deposited in neat piles all along the route; now, only a few short months later, they have been steamrolled into a solid and smooth surface to accommodate vehicular traffic.

Regavim alerted the Civil Administration and other relevant authorities in the early stages of the project, demanding decisive enforcement action against the illegal activity and those responsible for it. Nonetheless, the PA has managed to steamroll and surface the entire roadway without interference, and if the current pace of “law enforcement” continues, there is every reason to believe that the road will soon be fully paved with asphalt.

The squatters’ highway in November 2020

“We warned the Civil Administration and the authorities, and appealed to them to take swift, active steps to prevent further progress of the work on the road, designed to support the illegal structures already on the ground and to link the scattered outposts into a network and connect them to the central villages of Area B, but they did nothing,” said Eitan Melet, Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria.

“The Palestinian Authority is constantly working to create contiguity of Palestinian settlement; they aren’t standing around waiting for a Civil Administration inspector to show up and stop them. Either knowingly or unwittingly, the inaction of the enforcement authorities and the State of Israel is enabling the Palestinian Authority to achieve its vision of territorial contiguity and control in the Jordan Valley.”

Illegal school in the Jordan Valley, strategically placed by the European Union

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.

Without shame: European signage at the entrance

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.”

The school covered in sheets to hide it from the Israeli authorities
Turn on English subtitles

There’s been a tremendous amount of “chatter” recently – including governments condemning Israel and members of the US Congress referring to “ethnic cleansing” and serious crimes” committed by Israel in the case of Khurbet Humsa.

Although Regavim was not involved in this case, here are some facts to give you a more accurate picture of the story, which the European Union has failed do to.

First, the High Court of Justice decision, which refers to three earlier appeals on the same matter, in 4/2011, 7/2011 and 11/2014.

In each case the appellants tried a new excuse – Ramadan, the weather, who knows what – to prevent their removal from the site; in each case the court rejected the appeal out of hand. The area has been an active IDF training ground since 1972 (Firing Grounds 903), and the Bedouin didn’t set up camp there until 2010.

The satellite images we obtained are of the training grounds in 2008, focusing on the spot that was recently evacuated, followed by an image of the same point in 2013 (where only one structure is visible), and another in 2019 (where the recently-demolished structures, complete with European donors’ symbols, stand).

We haven’t done in-depth research on this illegal outpost, and weren’t involved in the legal process that resulted in last week’s demolitions, but this phenomenon is repeated over and over in IDF training grounds. In the case of the southern Hebron Hills area, a city has sprung up on what was IDF Firing Zones 917 and 918. As the Palestinian Authority and the European benefactors flooded the training grounds with more and more structures (not tents or shacks but massive, even palatial homes), the IDF gradually withdrew in order to avoid injuring the squatters, eventually abandoning the training grounds altogether. It’s no coincidence that this area was targeted for aggressive take-over: It forms a land bridge between Area A to the Negev and beyond, and is an active smuggling route.