The illegal school near Kisan, eastern Gush Etzion

Switzerland is a supposedly neutral country that doesn’t take sides in any conflict and remained (or at least claimed to be) neutral during both world wars. Well, it turns out that the “conflict” in Judea and Samaria can tilt even the most neutral forces.

A few weeks ago, we sent a letter to the Swiss embassy in Israel after learning that the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) had funded a huge, illegal school on Israeli state lands near the village of Kisan in Gush Etzion. In the letter, we requested that the Swiss government desist from further participation in illegal construction or other Palestinian Authority attempts to unilaterally redraw the map of Area C.

The response: “Switzerland considers that the planning and zoning regime, as implemented by Israel in Area C, is not in conformity with international law. Switzerland also considers that the regime is implemented in a discriminatory manner, undermining prospects for a two-state solution.”

We’d like to remind the Swiss that all construction without planning permission from the Civil Administration is illegal. It violates both the military orders and civil laws in force in this territory, as well as international law and the principle of non-intervention, a foundational element of the United Nations charter.

The biggest absurdity in the letter came in the next line: “We welcome the recent commitment of the Israeli authorities to grant more building permits for Palestinians in Area C.”

Perhaps then you should decide: do you recognize Israeli jurisdiction in Area C or not? The truth is, the question should really be aimed at the Israeli government.

Over many years, Regavim has been sounding the alarm about undisturbed, immoral, and unlawful European activity in Judea and Samaria. We call on the Israeli government to awaken from its slumber, stand up for its rights, and begin to fight the #BattleforAreaC.

In November, we posted about dozens of staffing allocations for Civil Administration inspectors supposed to fight the #BattleforAreaC that have been reassigned to other CA tasks. So even in cases where private Jewish lands are seized by Arabs, the authorities are busy with other things. And what about the rule of law? Forget about it.

In 1979, Moshe Zar, a prominent land dealer in Judea and Samaria, began to purchase lands through a Jordanian company that he founded (because of the law that prevents individual Jews from buying land in Judea and Samaria). For around three years, he used his hard-earned savings to buy thousands of dunams.

In the last few months, our field coordinator, along with the Samaria Regional Council’s Land Division, was shocked to discover an extensive invasion of Moshe Zar’s lands. Every month, the illegal construction projects are gaining ground – quite literally – under the unwatchful eyes of the Israeli authorities.

In order to protect Zar’s property rights, we sent an urgent letter to the Civil Administration in which we demanded quick and critical enforcement action against the illegal construction.

This is the response we received: “Enforcement and supervision will be taken in accordance with procedures, and the implementation of enforcement will be determined in line with established enforcement priorities and subject to operational considerations.” However, up until this very day, no enforcement has been carried out, no equipment or vehicles have been confiscated, and the construction projects have only expanded.

A short video summary of our activities over the past year

From the May 2021 Riots through the Electricity Law, from the Palestinian Authority’s de facto annexation of Area C through countless hours of Knesset committee hearings and fieldwork, from countless courtroom appearances through grinding parliamentary policy sessions, from our constant presence on the ground to our incessant efforts to bridge the gaps in law and enforcement, policy and vision – this year, as every year, we present a summary and overview of Regavim’s activities.
 
As always, we take stock of the year’s achievements and challenges with the approach of Tu B’Shvat, the day we celebrate the natural rebirth of the Land of Israel – and the founding of Regavim.
 
This year, as we have for the past 15 years, we did our utmost to insure that land policy in the State of Israel reflects core Jewish and Zionist values, using every possible means to combat the unrelenting opposing forces that seek to obscure and disrupt the connection of the Nation of Israel to this good and sacred Land.

We’re pleased to present our in-depth annual report here.

Thank you for your partnership and continued support.

Recently, we went on a field tour of the Adumim region (E1) with Tribe Journal to see up close the illegal Arab takeover of the territory. Naomi Kahn, Director of Regavim’s International Division, explained how the Bedouin are being used as pawns by the Palestinian Authority to create facts on the ground, in accordance with the Fayyad plan.

Over a decade ago, then-Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority Salam Fayyad outlined his vision for a future Palestinian state throughout Judea and Samaria. The strategic, meticulous, well-funded, EU-backed plan seeks to take control of Area C, the section of Judea and Samaria under Israeli jurisdiction, and unilaterally establish a de-facto Palestinian state.

Israeli governments have failed to offer an adequate response to this strategic threat. Through various activities, Regavim and others are working hard to change the tide and help the Israeli government begin to win the Battle for Area C.

Learn more in the video >>

Illegal structures in the Adumim region (E1)

This morning (Monday), the Knesset Land of Israel Caucus held a hearing focusing on the battle for Judea and Samaria.

Meir Deutsch, Director General of the Regavim Movement, shared updated data upon which Regavim based its recently-released precise map of Area C. The satellite mapping project revealed the alarming situation on the ground: From 2019 -2021, the Palestinians built 5097 new illegal structures in areas under full Israeli jurisdiction, an average of 7 new illegal structures per day. These new structures joined the already-staggering tally of illegal construction, for a total of 72,274 illegal structures in Area C.

On a parallel track, during the same two-year period the Palestinian Authority used agricultural projects to seize control of 7,125 dunams of Israeli state land, for a total of 93,071 dunams (93,071,000 square meters or 23,268 acres).

By planting hundreds of thousands of trees in the undeveloped open spaces of Area C, creating agricultural roads spanning dozens of kilometers each year, digging wells, cisterns and water delivery and irrigation systems, the Palestinian continues to exploit a loophole in Ottoman Land Law, still in force in Judea and Samaria, to wrest land rights from the State of Israel and establish de facto Palestinian control.

While the newly-released data indicate a slight reduction in the rate of illegal Palestinian construction compared to the previous two-year period, when 7,957 illegal structures were built (an average of 11 per day), the rate of agricultural land-grabs has remained virtually unchanged.

Regavim explained the lower rate of construction coupled with a steady rate of agricultural annexation as the result of the European Union’s decision to shift its funding away from illegal construction in order to focus on two alternative tracks: “lawfare” to prevent enforcement against new and existing illegal structures, and agricultural projects that achieve much greater territorial gains with far smaller financial investment.

“The Palestinian Authority is drawing the lines of the State of Palestine and presenting Israel with immutable facts on the ground. This is a strategic challenge of the first order, and one that Israel’s governments have done virtually nothing to address. It is a policy failure of a magnitude not seen since the Yom Kippur War,” said Deutsch.

Enforcement in Judea and Samaria

We got our hands on the information that we worked so hard to receive, finally. The news is upsetting, but it’s important for everyone to know. Israel’s Ministry of Defense has admitted that it has two different levels of enforcement in Judea and Samaria: one for Jews, and one for Arabs. We’ll let you guess where the enforcement is more heavy-handed.

For many months, we’ve been awaiting answers from the Ministry of Defense about the enforcement guidelines that are exercised in Judea and Samaria. Thanks to the petition that we filed, the Ministry was forced to admit that it’s not exactly ‘neutral’. Illegal Arab structures – in; illegal Jewish structures – out.

There’s no equality here, just plain racism. “Israeli construction that invades private land” is at the top of the enforcement priorities list, while “Arab construction that invades private land” is at the bottom of the list.

There are 60,000 illegal Arab structures in Judea and Samaria. 60,000! The law can and should be implemented against them, yet the Ministry of Defense allows the law enforcement bodies to turn a blind eye.

We demand that the Ministry of Defense assembles one list with all its enforcement priorities – to allow for equal, transparent, and fair management of its policies.

The Regavim Movement issued a scathing rebuttal of Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s statement earlier today comparing the Palestinian Authority’s takeover of land in Judea and Samaria to Israeli land grabs.

The written statement by Gantz was issued as an official reply to a parliamentary query submitted by MK Keti Shitrit (Likud) requesting clarification of the Defense Ministry’s response to the hostile takeover of the open spaces of Judea and Samaria.

In his response, publicized by Amiel Yarhi, political correspondent for the Kipa news site, the Defense Minister noted “attempts to trespass and to commandeer land in Judea and Samaria by both Palestinians and Israelis.”

Gantz referred to renewed issuance of construction permits for the Palestinian sector in Area C as the solution to the problem of land grabs.

Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim, responded: “This document indicates that the present Defense Minister is completely clueless regarding the strategic issues involved. This is nothing less than a revisiting of a “Yom Kippur War-style” implosion for the Defense Ministry,” Deutsch said.

“The Defense Minister has compared a situation described by the Palestinian Authority itself as its primary objective for the past decade, establishing the Palestinian state in Area C – an objective that is funded by European support in the hundreds of millions of dollars each year that has enabled the Palestinian Authority to pave dozens of kilometers of roads, put up thousands of electricity poles, build hundreds of public structures, schools and religious institutions in illegal outposts, supports agricultural work that has already taken over hundreds of thousands of dunams of Israeli state land, and orchestrate the construction of some 3500 illegal structures each year – and the Minister of Defense of the State of Israel compares this enormous, organized, systematic program of annexation to illegal construction in the Jewish sector in Judea and Samaria, the sum total of which amounts to some 3000 structures.”

Deutsch added that “the Defense Minister’s utter lack of understanding of this matter is an existential threat to the State of Israel. It is clear to us that this disgraceful document, which reflects a dangerous and reckless approach to the problem, will be a key piece of evidence in the official hearings of the Commission of Inquiry, the updated version of the Agranat Commission, that will be appointed to investigate and analyze the conceptual failure behind Israel’s acquiescence to the conquest of Israeli territory by the Palestinian Authority without a single shot being fired.”

The written statement issued by Gantz

A few months ago, we posted about the Arab invasion of Israeli lands between the Binyamin region and the Jordan Valley, next to the village of Duma. Near the Alon Road, Duma residents began a mass takeover of Israeli state lands: illegal structures, roads, fences, etc.

The illegal structures were built a significant distance from the village. The Palestinian Authority’s tactic is simple; we’ve noticed the same pattern time and again: they identify a strategic point far away from an already-existing population center, seize the entire territory, find another location farther away, build, and so on.

We approached the authorities a number of times about this issue, and applied pressure for the law to be enforced. Soon after, this week, the enforcement authorities restored the area to its original state and tore down the illegal structures.

This is an example of what we do on a daily basis. It starts with a presence on the ground, as our field coordinators throughout the country monitor and document illegal land grabs. We then alert the authorities and apply legal pressure to uphold the law.

Want to support our activities? Make an online, tax-deductible donation here.

Pollution at Nahal Prat

“The PA has zero control over the environment in Judea and Samaria, polluting and suffocating both Israeli and Arab communities,” says Eitan Melet of the Regavim NGO.

This article first appeared on World Israel News, by Aryeh Savir

The Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Israel’s “colonial settlements and their waste” are “Palestine’s most significant environmental dangers” in his address at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow on Tuesday. .

Listing the various grievances against Israel’s supposed environmental policies, Shtayyeh accused the Jewish state of “target[ing] land, trees, and water resources” and claimed that “around 2.5 million trees have been uprooted since 1967.”

Additionally, Israel has been “exhausting the resources of the Dead Sea, which threatens to dry it up, and restricting Palestine’s access to its shores,” Shtayyeh claimed.

However, an examination of the facts shows that the PA is the primary and almost sole environmental contaminator in Judea and Samaria on multiple levels.

The Prat Stream is polluted from sewage coming from Al-Bireh. The Shiban Stream is polluted by the slaughterhouses of Ramallah. Nahal Alexander is contaminated by PA oil mills in Samaria. The Hebron River is polluted by Hebron’s marble industry.

The Ramallah municipality poured massive mounds of trash into an abandoned quarry in the Binyamin region. More than 10,000 cubic feet of garbage were dumped there for weeks and then set on fire. The fire burned for almost a week, and the smoke reached the outskirts of Jerusalem.

PA residents established a huge car wreck lot in the heart of a nature reserve in Samaria. Hundreds of similar sites are scattered throughout the PA-administered areas of Judea and Samaria, in almost every Arab village.

An illegal Arab quarry, covering thousands of dunams in eastern Gush Etzion, is the largest quarry between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The extent of the environmental and scenic damage this quarry causes is indescribable, and this is only one of many more within the Palestinian Authority, without supervision, without control, and without rehabilitation operations.

A nature reserve controlled by the Palestinian Authority in the Judean Desert is crossed by miles of roads and pocked by hundreds of illegal structures.

A tire-burning site near Ramallah pollutes the area for the wire extracted from the tires.

The sewage from Bir Zeit University, from the town, and from nearby villages, flows openly as a stream of raw sewage in Samaria, without any treatment.

Eitan Melet, Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria for Regavim, an NGO dedicated to the protection of Israel’s national lands and resources, documented these enviromental crimes and accused Shtayyah of “lying to the whole world.”

“The PA has zero control over the environment in Judea and Samaria, polluting and suffocating both Israeli and Arab communities,” he charged.

Last weekend, Minister of Defense Benny Gantz announced that six Palestinian NGOs have ties with the PFLP. In response, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) designated Regavim and NGO Monitor as terrorist organizations.

The PLO called on international bodies to break off all relations with us and NGO Monitor, claiming that our activities are carried out in conjunction with the Shin Bet and in line with the instructions of the “occupation government”.

The Palestinians probably don’t understand the difference between civic engagement and terrorist activities.Terrorist activities include the murder of innocent civilians, paying salaries to terrorists who have murdered men, women, and children simply for being Jewish.

Civic engagement, meanwhile, is what we’ve been doing for the past 16 years. Regavim has dedicated itself to the protection of Israel’s most basic and most scarce resources – first and foremost, the land itself. We monitor, document, research, and report on illegal use of these resources, and work to promote policy and legislation that expresses the Zionist vision for a safe and prosperous Jewish homeland.

In this context, we have exposed the terrorist affiliations of numerous foreign-funded Palestinian ‘civil society’ organizations that have co-opted the language of humanitarian rights to disguise their goal of eradicating the Jewish State and its citizens.

Honestly, we’re proud to be labelled a terrorist entity by the Palestinian Authority. It means we’re doing something right.

We’ll continue our fight to protect Israel’s resources, preserve Israeli sovereignty, fight the illegal takeover of Area C, and expose the murderous activities of supposedly ‘humanitarian’ organizations.