Recently we were hosted by The Israel Connexion on J-AIR Community Radio to discuss EU-Israel relations, together with Peter Stano, spokesperson for the European External Action Service – EEAS.

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!

Regavim: Protecting Israel’s Resources, Preserving Israeli Sovereignty

The State of Israel enacted an effective enforcement order to fight the Palestinian takeover of Judea and Samaria, but the Civil Administration has refrained from using it – despite the approval of the High Court of Justice. Now, the Regavim Movement and the Samaria Regional Council have submitted a High Court petition demanding that the legislation be applied against Palestinian invasion of an archaeological site in Samaria.

Over the past several months, Regavim has documented a persistent stream of incursion and annexation, as residents of Burkin, a village located in the area under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction, have taken over a significant parcel of land in the Ariel Commercial Zone – located in Area C, under full Israeli jurisdiction.

The area that is being quietly annexed is adjacent to an archaeological site known as Khirbet Khurkosh, where a magnificent Hellenistic Era mausoleum was discovered, along with other remains dating from the Iron Age through the Middle Ages.

This gradual annexation began with road work, which was soon followed by land clearing and preparation for agricultural work. Mature olive trees were quickly planted, in an attempt to make the newly-cleared area look “old” – and now, a large structure, already connected to electricity infrastructure despite its considerable distance from the village, is nearing completion. This entire project is unfolding on “survey land,” Israeli state land for which full registration has not been completed.

The recently-filed High Court petition emphasizes that six different requests for enforcement were submitted to the relevant authorities at each of the stages of the annexation process, but the work continued, unhindered, and no discernable enforcement has been carried out.

For years, the Palestinian Authority and its partners in the European Union have exploited the Israeli bureaucratic and legal systems, successfully preventing law enforcement against illegal Palestinian annexation.

In 2018, the “Order for the Removal of New Illegal Structures” was enacted by the defense establishment and the State Attorney’s Office as part of the “Battle for Area C.” This legislation allows the demolition of new structures built without a permit within six months of construction. The order may be implemented within 96 hours of issuance of an eviction order.

The “Removal of New Structures” order is an effective enforcement tool that makes it possible to streamline the law enforcement process and make it more difficult for offenders to establish facts on the ground by abusing the judicial process.

After the “Removal of New Structures” order was enacted, left-wing organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice to strike it down, but their petition was rejected and the High Court approved the order’s use. Nonetheless, to this day the state has made minimal use of this order, despite the fact that it has proven to be the most efficient and effective tool in the fight against illegal construction.

In the petition filed by Regavim Movement and the Samaria Regional Council, attorneys Avi Segal and Yael Cinnamon requested that the High Court order the authorities to apply the “Order for Removal of New Structures” against the ongoing invasion of Khirbet Khurkosh.

Samaria Council Chairman Yossi Dagan said: “The Security Cabinet announced its intention to battle the PA’s annexation of Area C, and the time has come for the enforcement authorities to act accordingly – to approach the problem in a systematic fashion and to act systematically. We must stop the Palestinian Authority’s rampage, and tell them, loudly and clearly, who’s the boss.”

The joint petition stresses that “this case illustrates the PA’s systematic, well-financed and carefully-planned takeover of Area C, which seeks to shift the focal point of Palestinian development from Area B to Area C. The Palestinian Authority is establishing facts on the ground in order to tie Israel’s hands – both in terms of current security considerations and in terms of political leverage in strategic points in Area C. These one-sided facts on the ground will impact the opening positions for future negotiations, and the State of Israel must address them right now.”

An illegal structure built on Israeli state lands at the archaeological site of Khirbet Khurkosh
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
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Illegal construction near Duma

The Palestinian Authority (PA) took advantage of the Passover holiday recess for large-scale illegal construction, including sites already under court-issued work-stop orders. Regavim: “This pattern repeats itself over each holiday, and the Israeli authorities continue to do nothing to prevent it.”

While Israelis enjoyed the week-long Passover holiday, the PA used the Civil Administration’s vacation to full advantage, carrying out lightning-paced construction at a number of strategically-placed sites in Area C, the portion of Judea and Samaria under full Israeli jurisdiction.

One of the projects aimed at establishing facts on the ground during the inspectors’ vacation is on the outskirts of Rujeib, located between Shechem (Nablus) and the Jewish community of Itamar in Area C. Over the intermediate days of the Passover festival, new areas were leveled for construction and infrastructure was laid for an illegal construction project that broke ground in recent months.

In the vicinity of Duma, a village adjacent to the Alon Road in the eastern Binyamin section of Area C, three permanent structures were built over the holiday – part of an enormous illegal construction project that is doubling the size of the village.

At Khirbet Khurkosh, an archaeological site in central Samaria that has been subjected to large-scale invasion and destruction in recent months, a very large brick-and-mortar structure was built over Passover.

Under current Civil Administration operational guidelines, all field inspectors vacation for the duration of the Jewish high holidays in the fall and Passover in the spring. For a week or more, no oversight, inspection or enforcement activity is carried out in Judea and Samaria. The results have become depressingly predictable: an outbreak of illegal construction in Area C.

Illegal construction on the outskirts of Rujeib, between Nablus and Itamar

Several years ago, Regavim released a report titled “Festivals of Construction” (Hebrew) surveying this phenomenon. Among other recommendations, the report suggested that the Civil Administration hire Druse inspectors to carry out the necessary fieldwork on Jewish days of rest and festivals, paralleling the system used by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor to enforce Israel’s days-of-rest laws and the Ministry of Interior’s system for enforcing Passover Chametz laws.

“These are the tip of the iceberg of the systematic annexation-via-construction program that is carried out on Jewish holidays, which have become festivals of illegal construction in the Arab sector throughout Israel, and particularly in Judea and Samaria,” says Eitan Melet, Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria. “The authorities know full well what will happen, but fail to take any preventative measures.”

Freedom of Information Petition: Who is providing electricity to illegal Palestinian construction?

The Regavim Movement has petitioned the Jerusalem District Court, after the Civil Administration refused to provide data on the extent of electricity connections apparently supplied by the East Jerusalem Electric Company, an Israeli subsidiary of the Israel Electric Company which is subject to Israeli law, for thousands of illegal Palestinian structures in Judea and Samaria.

Tens of thousands of illegal structures have been built in the last decade in Area C, the section of Judea and Samaria under full Israeli jurisdiction. Most of these structures are connected to the electricity grid operated by the East Jerusalem Electric Company, an Israeli company supervised by the Public Services Authority. Other than the Israel Electric Company, the East Jerusalem Electric Company is the only company in Israel licensed to distribute electricity throughout the country.

To ascertain the extent of this phenomenon, Regavim submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Civil Administration last August. The request focused on electrical connections provided for illegal structures located a few meters from the entrance gate to Efrat in Gush Etzion. These structures, built illegally by Arabs with the encouragement and support of the Palestinian Authority, are connected to the East Jerusalem Electric Company network.

Regavim wanted to understand how the East Jerusalem Electric Company received permission to connect the illegal structures to the grid, and precisely how the electricity pillars were placed: Is there an approved masterplan for the area? Were these structures given permits, or perhaps granted permit exemptions which allowed for their connection to the grid?

The Civil Administration did not respond; after Regavim’s second request for information, the Civil Administration’s official response was that “staff members are working vigorously to formulate a response to this query;” although these structures had been hooked up to the electrical supply only a few months before the query was submitted, the Civil Administration explained that the structures in question are “old,” and that “in-depth examination of the archives is required.”

Months after this puzzling response, no substantive reply was received from the Civil Administration to the Freedom of Information request, so Regavim petitioned the court to compel the Civil Administration to provide satisfactory answers about this absurd situation.

“Aside from the safety hazards posed by unauthorized, unsupervised electrical connections, this situation lends permanence to the illegal structures,” says Yakhin Zik, Director of Operations at Regavim. “It is inconceivable that a company subject to Israeli law should provide unauthorized electrical connections to structures built illegally. It is inconceivable that while on the one hand the Israeli government has vowed to fight and win “the battle for Area C,” on the other hand it is allowing this phenomenon to entrench and reward the illegal construction that is the primary tool for the hostile Palestinian takeover of Area C.”

חיבורי חשמל
At the largest illegal dump in Judea and Samaria, untreated waste continues to pollute the entire ecosystem – and no indictments are in sight.
Under cover of the first corona shutdown, the Ramallah Municipality dumped thousands of truckloads of untreated refuse into an abandoned quarry at the headwaters of Nahal Makoch. The Civil Administration admits: Only three trucks were impounded, and no indictments were filed against the criminals. Regavim: “The mountain of waste remains, despite the Civil Administration’s claims to the contrary.”

The mountain of waste dumped during the first corona lockdown by the Ramallah Municipality at the Nahal Makoch water basin is made up of more than 10,000 cubic meters of household and industrial waste. More than six months after the Regavim Movement filed an official complaint, “Mount Trashmore” remains precisely as it was, and in an official response to Regavim’s recent query, the Civil Administration admited that no indictments have been filed against those responsible for this environmental disaster.

Last year, during the first closure imposed to combat the spread of the corona virus, the Ramallah Municipality took advantage of the furlough of enforcement inspectors, and over the course of just a few weeks, thousands of garbage trucks dumped their contents into an abandoned quarry located only hundreds of meters from Binyamin Region Police Headquarters.

Last summer, after Regavim sent an urgent alert to the Civil Administration (CA), which is responsible for law enforcement in the area, the CA replied that they had halted all further dumping at the site and had carried out a number of enforcement actions. Regavim submitted a freedom of information request, to obtain details of the enforcement activity. From the CA’s reply, received earlier this week, we learned that in fact only two garbage trucks and an excavator were impounded, and the vehicles’ owners were charged only for the impound expenses.

The Civil Administration admitted that although the perpetrators were caught in the act, no indictments have been filed against them. In addition, the huge mountains of trash have not yet been removed from the area, contrary to the Civil Administration’s statement that “the owner of the machinery is required to remove the waste and level the area,” and that “these steps were completed out some time ago.”

“Almost a year has passed, and not one of the authorities responsible for dealing with hazards of this nature has taken responsibility,” explains Eitan Melet, Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria. “The criminals got off virtually scot-free, with no criminal indictments, no clean-up costs, no punitive fines – but the entire ecosystem is paying a heavy price. The heaps of untreated garbage contaminate the topsoil, and runoff flows into the nearby creek channel, seeping into the groundwater, polluting the Makoch Valley and Wadi Qelt. This is eco-terrorism, and the official bodies that should be responding to it with swift, decisive action to repair the environmental damage and create a deterrent for other eco-criminals – the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Civil Administration – are allowing this monumental failure to persist.”

PA ‘celebrates’ Tu b’Shvat near Rosh HaAyin

Yesterday (Sunday 24 January), the Palestinian Authority planted thousands of trees on Israeli state land, in an IDF firing zone. Participating in the event were armed Palestinian Police. Regavim: “While they’re establishing facts on the ground, the Israeli authorities are in winter hibernation.”

The Palestinian Authority held a ceremony yesterday (Sunday), planting some 2000 olive trees on Israeli state land, in IDF Training Ground 203 – adjacent to Rosh HaAyin to the east and Dir Balut in the west, in close proximity to the security barrier.

The event was filmed, photographed and publicized by Fatah– affiliated Radio Zeituna and on social media. Armed Palestinian Police officers were among those in attendance, and were filmed as they entered the IDF firing zone – despite the fact that are prohibited from entering Area C, the section of Judea and Samaria under Israeli jurisdiction.

This event is one element of a large-scale project that has taken shape over the past several years, in which the Palestinian Authority has planted millions of trees as a means of illegally seizing control of thousands of dunams in Area C.

The Palestinian Authority’s “agricultural annexation” focuses on land adjacent to roadways, surrounding Jewish communities, as well as state land – particularly in locations that are of high strategic and political importance.

“The Palestinian Authority has joined the Tu B’Shvat celebrations with well-planned ‘agricultural conquest’ projects – and thus far, the State of Israel is fast asleep,” said a spokesperson for Regavim. “These projects are supported by massive European funding, and the targeted locations are chosen with care to serve a clear and publicly-declared purpose: changing the map, by creating facts on the ground – and all within spitting distance of Rosh HaAyin and Gush Dan.”

The EU-funded Palestinian outpost of Khan al-Ahmar

The High Court of Justice on Sunday (30 November) granted the state can another additional extension and postponed proceedings regarding the evacuation of the illegal Arab outpost of Khan al Ahmar until July 2021.

In it seventh hearing on Khan al Ahmar following a petition submitted by the Regavim Movement, the court granted the state another extension, giving Prime Minister Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Gantz another seven months to report on the status of the Palestinian Authority (PA) outpost in the Adumim Region (E1).

The High Court of Justice approved the evacuation of the outpost, and this most recent petition was filed when the government failed to fulfill its commitment.

Regavim, which monitors and combats illegal Arab construction and land grabs, accused Netanyahu of “hiding behind closed-door hearings and secret communications to avoid why he was able to demolish [the Israeli communities of] Netiv HaAvot and Amona but is unable to evacuate Khan al Ahmar or to stand up to the Palestinian Authority.”

“It’s convenient for Netanyahu to hide behind closed doors and use in-camera hearings to avoid explaining to the Israeli public why he hasn’t lived up to his public pronouncements and to his commitment, reiterated countless times, to evacuate Khan al Ahmar. He owes the voters an explanation: Why was he able to evacuate Netiv HaAvot and Amona, but unable to deal with Khan al Ahmar or the Palestinian Authority?”

The Khan al Ahmar saga, more than a decade long, has been heard in multiple High Court of Justice petitions submitted by Regavim.

In 2018, the Israeli government announced its intention to complete the evacuation and relocation of the illegal outpost, the flagship of the Palestinian Authority’s systematic program of territorial dominance in Area C.

The Jahalin Bedouin, the residents of Kahn Al-Ahmar, are an offshoot of a larger tribe based in southern Israel. After a blood feud that occurred within the tribe in the 1970s, some of the families were forced out and migrated north, arriving and settling in their present location after the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

The location of the illegal structures is hazardous due to its proximity to Highway 1, a major transportation artery. Khan al Ahmar overlooks the road that connects Jerusalem to the south of Israel in a strategic area.

This article appeared on JewishPress

An illegal, EU-funded, PA-built school in Nahal Machoch Nature Reserve on Israeli state land

Brigadier General Ghassan Alian, Commander of the IDF’s Civil Administration, said at a hearing in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the Palestinian Authority (PA) employs hundreds of people to register real estate in Judea and Samaria – including in Area C, which is under full Israeli control, while the Civil Administration has only about 20 people dealing with this issue.

Alian’s shocking remarks were made in the context of this morning’s (November 23) Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee hearing, chaired by MK Gideon Saar. The hearing, initiated by MKs Uzi Dayan, Moshe Arbel, Yitzhak Pindros and Bezalel Smotrich, examined the renewal of land registration and regulation procedures in Judea and Samaria.

The chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, MK Zvi Hauser, who participated in the hearing, reacted sharply, “This is the what the State of Israel has to show for itself, although for years it has talked about the ‘battle for Area C’ but in practice only a few people are assigned to this issue – despite the fact that the Palestinian Authority has been in a race to seize control and register territory, and some 600 people are employed to do so.”

Meir Deutsch, Director General of the Regavim Movement, who participated in the hearing, says that the data provided by the Civil Administration reflect that the Israeli government’s operational, organizational and moral bankruptcy.

“Land regulation and registration is a complex process that is the responsibility of the sovereign. Aside from the fact that the Palestinian Authority is treating Area C as its own sovereign territory – and there has been no Israeli response to speak of – the shameful inaction of the Israeli government to carry out land registration in Judea and Samaria is a moral failure. In essence, the government is making a statement through this inaction that it is not the sovereign in the area,” Deutsch said.

In 2019, Regavim exposed an internal Civil Administration document that outlined illegal Palestinian Authority land registration activity in Area C of Judea and Samaria, the portion of Judea and Samaria placed under full Israeli jurisdiction under the Oslo Accords.

According to this Civil Administration report, Palestinian Authority land registry efforts date back to at least 2015, and includes ownership inspection procedures, registration of purported ownership of the land in its official land registry, and parcellation of territorial blocks and individual plots of land – including property within the municipal boundaries of Jewish communities.

A report released in June 2017 exposed that “this is a phenomenon spread over thousands of dunams” and that the process “is led by the Palestinian Ministry of Justice and in particular by the Palestinian Land Authority, under the management of Nadim al-Brahami, with funding provided by various European countries.”

This article appeared on JewishPress.com