Following our petition, Civil Administration forces tore down an illegal Palestinian school, built in the Herodion Nature Reserve and Heritage Site in Gush Etzion.
63 days after the Jerusalem District Court ordered to seal off and demolish the illegal structure, and despite UN efforts to delay law enforcement, the school was taken down.
This school is only one out of more than 100 illegal school buildings that were built in Judea and Samaria, as part of the Palestinian Authority’s plan to take over Area C and the open spaces.
Yesterday morning’s enforcement is the first step in restoring law and order to the area, and it is certainly not the last: now, we need to restore the site and deal with the hundreds of similar cases of illegal takeovers of lands and nature reserves in this area and beyond.
“Have any of you ever been to the quarry?” – that’s what the judge asked the State representatives in last week’s District Court hearing in the case of the Beit Fajjar quarry.
The Beit Fajjar quarry, located in east Gush Etzion and mainly in Area C, is the largest illegal quarry in the country, spreading over about 1,600 acres.
In the last decade, Regavim has filed two petitions against the illegal quarrying – which, besides taking over huge swaths of land, causes major damage to archaeological sites.
In last week’s hearing, the State rejected the claims that there is ongoing damage to archeology, and claimed that quarry has not expanded significantly since 2005. Regavim’s lawyers presented findings that prove the opposite, causing the judge to wonder why the State authorities are unaware of the current reality. The judge demanded that up-to-date evaluations be carried out and an answer submitted to the courts within 60 days.
We’ll continue to monitor the situation on the ground, as part of the battle to preserve Israel’s land resources.
In the heart of the Land of Israel, an exclusive new housing project is underway. To qualify for this prime location you must have Jewish blood on your hands: Eligibility is for those who have served a minimum 5-year prison sentence in an Israeli security prison.
Recently, work began on a new neighborhood of 100 luxury villas in Area B – the portion of Judea and Samaria under Palestinian Authority civil jurisdiction and Israeli security jurisdiction.
The project developer, the Ramallah-based “Al Karameh Corporation for Prisoner Housing,” is an association whose members have served sentences of at least five years in Israeli prisons for terror-related convictions. The governing board of the corporation boasts family members of notorious terrorists, including Ablah Saadat, wife of Ahmad Saadat, Secretary General of the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Naim Al-Sharif, father of Imad Al-Sharif, a convicted Hamas terrorist.
The new neighborhood has a commanding position overlooking Route 60 at the British Police Junction. This is the spot from which countless terrorist incidents have been launched, including in 2002 when an Palestinian-Arab sniper murdered 7 IDF soldiers, 3 civilians and injured 6 others.
This proves unequivocally that those calling upon Israel and the world to prop up and even strengthen the Palestinian Authority are completely out of touch with reality. It is high time that we understand precisely who and what we are dealing with: The Palestinians – both the leadership and the rank and file civilian population – idolize terrorists and consider them freedom fighters and martyrs, while the Israeli government agonizes over the morality of deporting the families of terrorists or of instituting the death penalty.
While all this hand-wringing and moralizing is going on, terrorism continues to claim the lives of Israelis throughout the Land of Israel, and the bloody tally of Jewish victims continues to swell.
In a hearing of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on the repeal of the Disengagement Law, Avraham Binyamin last week, Director of Regavim’s Policy Division, presented documentation of massive illegal Palestinian construction in northern Samaria in general, and particularly on the ruins of the Ganim, Kadim and Sa-Noor communities that were de-populated as part of the 2005 disengagement plan. The aerial photographs presented to the Committee show thousands of illegal Arab structures in Area C, the portion of Judea and Samaria under full Israeli jurisdiction – hundreds of them built only in the past year.
Far worse than the staggering quantity of this illegal construction is its strategic quality: These illegal structures create a land bridge between blocs of Palestinian Authority-controlled Area B settlements, undermining the Oslo framework that left the question of territorial contiguity under Palestinian Authority control for a negotiated resolution.
“The 2005 Disengagement Law is one more element abetting the creation of a terrorist state in the heart of the Land of Israel,” said Binyamin, who presented aerial photos of large-scale illegal construction in the region. “The land on which the de-populated Jewish communities of northern Shomron once stood – Ganim, Kadim, Sa-Noor – have been overtaken by illegal Arab construction, despite the fact that the IDF ostensibly retains control of the territory.”
“By emptying the northern Shomron communities of their Jewish residents, the Disengagement Law opened the door for Palestinian Authority annexation of the territory which the Civil Administration has done absolutely nothing to prevent,” he added.
Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim, released a statement following the Knesset hearing: “Nearly a century ago, Joseph Trumpeldor summarized an essential truth of the Zionist ethos that is no less relevant today than it was in the pre-State era: “The place where the last row is plowed will be the border of our country.” Land on which there is no Jewish presence will be lost. Settlement and security are not only related, they are inseparable.”
“The false prophecies of the architects of the “disengagement,” who claimed that ceding territory would enhance Israel’s security, continue to blow up in our faces. Precisely because there is no longer a Jewish presence on the ground, there is no security. The borders of the State of Israel are being re-drawn by the Palestinian Authority – without negotiation, without compromise, in ways that threaten the security of the entire State of Israel. It is long past time to reverse this disastrous policy.”
For the ninth time: the State of Israel asks the High Court to allow another postponement of its response to Regavim’s petition for the evacuation of the Palestinian Authority’s flagship outpost, Khan al Ahmar. Regavim: “A right-wing government is tested by deeds, not by words.”
The extension granted to the state four months ago to respond to Regavim Movement petition to relocate the Bedouin squatters of Khan al Ahmar ended today, and the state has requested an additional four-month extension to present its position.
“The political echelon remains steadfast in its position that the rule of law requires the demolition orders to be carried out in the Khan al Ahmar compound,” according to the state’s request, adding that in the weeks since the formation of the present government, the new head of the National Security Council, Tzachi Hanegavi, has been working in cooperation with the National Security Advisor, representatives of the Ministry of Defense, the IDF, the General Security Service (Shin Bet), the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice, and other government representatives.
“The details of this intensive effort speak to the complexity, sensitivity and importance that state officials attach to compliance with the conditional orders already issued in this matter, as well as the fact that the issue is a high priority… On the other hand, given the complexity of the issue and its sensitivity, the high level of interest in the international community and the and implications for the foreign relations and security of the State of Israel at the present time, those charged with handling this case at the professional level have been instructed to complete all necessary steps required to formulate an appropriate response to the conditional order as soon as possible. The formulation of a detailed response on such a sensitive and complicated issue justifies the position of the political echelon that an additional stay be granted to enable the professionals to complete their work and to submit a comprehensive analysis to the political echelon.”
The Regavim Movement issued a strongly-worded statement criticizing the postponement request. “We were hoping for an appropriate response by a national right-wing government – as promised in the election campaign,” said Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim. “There is no justification for this. Like Cato in ancient Rome, we continue to repeat the same demand, to hold the same consistent position, to call upon our representatives in the government to act immediately to evacuate this illegal encampment – as well as dozens of other Palestinian Authority outposts created in the same mold – not 300 meters away from its present location, but to the neighborhood prepared precisely for this purpose near Abu Dis.”
Regavim responded to the state’s request for postponement by calling on the High Court to issue a final order, as it intimated it would when it granted the previous postponement, and put an end to the saga once and for all. “This is an extreme case of ‘lack of reasonableness’,” added Deutsch. “After all is said and done, this case will prove whether the High Court applies the same standard of reasonableness to cases from both sides of the political divide, or whether the reasonableness standard is nothing more than a judicial fig leaf for a particular agenda. We await a final judgement for the relocation of the Khan al Ahmar outpost in a manner that is consistent with Israel’s national interests.”
This morning (Monday), Likud MKs Danny Danon and Yoel (Yuli) Edelstein joined the Regvaim Movement and the Jerusalem Environs Forum – and faced by a pro-Palestinian demonstration. Regavim: “The question isn’t whether or not, but how and when the outpost will be evacuated.”
The deadline for the state’s response in the Khan al Ahmar case is rapidly approaching – and the political pressure is climbing. This morning (Monday), World Likud Chairman MK Danny Danon and Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee MK Yoel (Yuli) Edelstein were joined by Likud activists on a tour of Khan al Ahmar hosted by the Regavim Movement and the Forum for Jerusalem Satellite Communities. A group Palestinian Arab and leftist activists protested nearby, waving Palestinian flags.
Less than 2 weeks remain for the state to submit its response to the High Court of Justice in the sixth petition submitted by the Regavim Movement regarding the illegal outpost adjacent to Route 1, the main access road connecting Jerusalem to the Dead Sea and Israel’s eastern border. This most recent deadline marks the eighth time the state has delayed compliance. The fast-approaching deadline of 1 February is the ninth such extension granted by the High Court – which also declared that it would be the last.
MK Danny Danon: “I have come here today to strengthen our government as it prepares its response to the High Court regarding the evacuation of this site. Israel is a state governed by law and order, and we must not accept selective enforcement. Khan al Ahmar must be evacuated immediately. I am well acquainted with the international community. Our friends around the world will understand that there can be no place for selective enforcement that discriminates against Jews in Judea and Samaria.”
Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim: “The State of Israel must understand that this is a mega-issue that goes far beyond the Khan al Ahmar outpost. Our annual documentation and mapping of the illegal construction in Area C proves that in the past decade the Palestinian Authority has taken tremendous strides toward establishing a de facto state in the heart of the Land of Israel – and the government is simply closing its eyes to reality.”
“The new government must prove to the voters who elected them that it is a real Zionist nationalist government – and place the Battle for Area C at the top of the agenda. The question regarding Khan al Ahmar is no longer whether the outpost will be evacuated, but when and how.”
This evening (Tuesday) the High Court of Justice rejected a “Peace Now” petition arguing that Israel’s land allocation policy in Judea and Samaria is discriminatory and demanding that territory be granted to Palestinians in Efrat. Regavim: “As far as the left-wing organizations are concerned, no tactic is off limits when it comes to harming the State of Israel.“
A panel of Supreme Court judges led by Chief Justice Esther Hayut today rejected a petition filed by Peace Now on behalf of Arab residents of Bethlehem, claiming discrimination in Israel’s land allocation policy. In an earlier stage of the case, Israeli authorities proposed that the Palestinians submit a request for allocation of a 51 dunam plot in the area designated for Efrat’s newest neighborhood; representatives of Peace Now rejected the proposal, claiming that it is “not even a Band-Aid on the systemic discrimination.”
The current petition, submitted on behalf of 13 Arab residents of Bethlehem, demanded that the state allocate land in the area of a future neighborhood of the Jewish community of Efrat, the Eitam Hill. The petition made a precedent-setting argument against Israel’s land allocation policy in general, claiming that there should be parity between land allocations for Jewish and Arab use in Area C, the portion of Judea and Samaria under full Israeli jurisdiction.
The petition followed a long and winding legal battle, with roots dating back some 30 years to the establishment of Efrat on state land in Gush Etzion. “This petition represents a new tactic: In addition to the back-door methods of Palestinian annexation – illegal construction and agricultural landgrabs – Peace Now is trying to open the front door for the Palestinian Authority’s takeover of Area C through Israel’s High Court,” explained Avraham Binyamin, Director of Policy and Parliamentary Affairs at Regavim. “The petition argues that the state discriminates against the Palestinians in the way it allocates land – but completely ignores the reality on the ground, in which the Palestinian Authority already controls nearly half of Judea and Samaria, and has vast available land reserves to which Jewish residents have no access.”
Binyamin added: “Far-left organizations will stop at nothing in their attempts to torpedo the growth of Jewish communities on the one hand, and promote the Palestinian takeover of Judea and Samaria for a Palestinian state, on the other hand. As far as they are concerned, any and all means, including causing harm to vital Israeli interests and causing harm to Israel’s reputation and integrity, are acceptable.”
The High Court rejected the claim of discrimination, noting that the state had, in fact, opened the door to Palestinian requests for land allocations.
Attorney Boaz Arzi of Regavim’s Legal Division noted that although the High Court rejected this petition, the state took its first step on a slippery slope by declaring that it will, under certain circumstances, agree to allocate land in Area C to Arab petitioners. “There is absolutely no justification for giving land away, for ceding control of vital state assets to the Palestinian Authority’s control, when there is more than enough land available in Areas A and B to provide for the needs of the Arab population. The land involved in this petition has been part of the municipal property of Efrat for years; the Arabs have been trying to lay their hands on it by every means possible – through illegal construction, through agricultural land-grabs, and now, through the Israeli courts.”
“The Peace Now campaign against the establishment of the Eitam neighborhood has been going on for decades,” noted Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim. “From the start, it has been riddled with distortions, half-truths and outright lies. We can only hope that the High Court’s rejection of this most recent attempt will put an end to the saga, and will clear the smokescreen that is used by the anti-Israel left to delegitimize Jewish community-building in Judea and Samaria and to defame the State of Israel.”
The Regavim Movement constructed a “Palestinian outpost” outside the home of Minister of Defense Benny Gantz – and within minutes were “evicted.” “Gantz is singlehandedly creating the Palestinian state.”
This morning (Monday), members of the Regavim Movement erected a structure, decorated with Palestinian and European Union flags, near the Rosh Ha’ayin home of the Minister of Defense. In a matter of minutes, municipal patrol units and a police enforcement team arrived at the scene and demanded they evacuate the area.
The structure was built as part of the launch of Regavim’s most recent report on the status of land in Area C of Judea and Samaria. The “War of Attrition 2022” report reveals that the rate of illegal Arab construction has increased dramatically over the past year.
Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim, presented the central findings of the new study: “During Benny Gantz’s tenure as Minister of Defense, 5535 new illegal Palestinian structures were built in Area C, the Israeli-controlled section of Judea and Samaria. Regavim conducts precise and in-depth analysis of the situation on the ground every year, and carefully monitors the spread of illegal construction. This month, when we completed our mapping and analysis of the most current data, we were shocked and appalled. Although we had strong suspicions that the situation was devolving, the facts are even worse than we imagined: Over the past year, the rate of illegal construction skyrocketed by 80%. Gantz is not merely abandoning Judea and Samaria, he is actively establishing a de facto Palestinian state. Israeli voters should make no mistake; the upcoming elections are about one thing: will a Palestinian state arise in the heart of the Land of Israel.”
A reportreleased by the Regavim Movement reveals that in 2022, illegal Palestinian construction in Area C, the portion of Judea and Samaria under full Israeli jurisdiction, increased by 80%. The report documents 5535 new illegal structures built in 2022, compared to 3076 structures in the same period in 2021. Regavim: “The Israeli government is creating a de facto Palestinian state.“
In 2022, illegal Palestinian construction in Area C of Judea and Samaria boomed, outpacing the already-alarming rate seen in 2021 by 80%. Regavim’s most recent report, based on data collected through meticulous fieldwork, aerial photography and GIS mapping, compared the situation on the ground in 2021 to that of 2022. The study covered the period of April 2021 through April 2022, analyzing the number of structures, the legal status of the land on which they were built and the jurisdictional lines dictated by international law.
Regavim’s exhaustive study indicates that in comparison to previous years, the data for the most recent period are unprecedented, both in quality and quantity. The structures in built in recent months are not temporary shacks or makeshift shelters that characterized much of the illegal activity in earlier years; in 2022, new Palestinian construction is characterized by “palatial residences, sprawling holiday resorts, amusement and entertainment compounds and event halls, swimming pools and vacation villages, and high-rise residential and commercial towers.” In addition to the mass-scale construction, in many areas development and infrastructure work was carried out to lay the groundwork for future full-scale neighborhoods, such as at Khirbet Khattha near Tarkumiyeh and Lakef near Karnei Shomron.
Regavim studied construction patterns exclusively in Area C, the portion of Judea and Samaria placed under full Israeli jurisdiction in the Oslo Accords framework. At present, according to Regavim’s research, there are 81,317 illegal Arab-built structures in this area, covering an area of approximately 150,000 dunams – twice the total area of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria all told, legal and illegal. Illegal Jewish construction stands at 4,382 structures, of which 406 new structures were built in the time period of the new study. Although the disparity in number is striking, it is far overshadowed by the disparity in quality: Whereas illegal Arab-built structures are located in desolate, remote areas far from existing villages or settlement clusters, all of the illegal construction in the Jewish sector is located within the municipal “blue line” boundaries of Jewish settlements.
Analysis of the hard data reveals several additional important facts: Aerial photos show that in Areas A and B – the sections of Judea and Samaria placed under full Palestinian Authority civil jurisdiction under the Oslo framework, there are abundant empty spaces that remain undeveloped and completely un-utilized. Rather than developing these areas, Arab construction has continued to seep into the open spaces of Area C. Additionally, these same aerial photos leave no room for doubt: Arab construction is neither random nor haphazard. Construction is strategically placed, in accordance with the Fayyad Plan, according to pre-established criteria and objectives: Creating contiguous Arab settlement – a pattern that is particularly pronounced in northern Samaria; isolation and strangulation of Jewish communities; construction on the route of planned traffic arteries such as the Funduk Bypass Road and the Tekoa–Ibei HaNachal Access Road in eastern Gush Etzion; construction alongside existing highways, including Route 55 and Route 60, the main roads of Samaria and Judea respectively.
On Thursday afternoon (29 September), shots were fired at Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria.
On a routine field patrol near Kiryat Arba, Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria and the Municipality’s Land Protection Officer were targeted by gunfire. The incident ended without casualties. Regavim’s Field Coordinator, Menash Shmueli, alerted security forces who are combing the area in search of the terrorists.
The field team was documenting a new phenomenon in Area C: the creation of cemeteries in open areas, as another element in the massive takeover of land by the Palestinians to create Arab territorial contiguity while isolating and suffocating Jewish communities and disrupting their access to major traffic arteries.
Today we got a close-up view of how the battle for Area C, which we have been sounding the alarm about for years, morphs from illegal construction and seemingly-innocent agricultural expansion into life-threatening live fire – all in the blink of an eye.
In the video that was being filmed on location, the sounds of gunfire can be heard clearly in the final seconds.
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