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.

Illegal construction on IDF Training Ground 918

A new Regavim petition to the High Court of Justice has exposed an illegal internal protocol created by the Civil Administration, an arm of the Ministry of Defense. The very people in charge of enforcement are aiding and encouraging illegal construction!

Let’s say theres an illegal structure built by an Arab in Area C, which is under Israeli jurisdiction. The construction offender receives a demolition order. But instead of actually demolishing the illegal structure, the State of Israel, via the Civil Administration, allows the criminal to launch a bureaucratic cat-and-mouse game. By simply applying for a building permit, submitting an appeal when the permit request is denied, applying for a ‘taba’ (urban planning permit), and even an “exemption from enforcement” – the offender enjoys blanket protection against enforcement for years on end – even though this protection has no basis in the law. As crazy as that sounds, it’s standard procedure.

Each request, no matter how ridiculous, automatically suspends enforcement, and pushes off the structure’s demolition by two or three years. By then, another planning request is submitted, enforcement is again suspended, and so on. Once the process finally runs it’s course, the structure is considered “old construction” – which doesn’t interest anyone, certainly not the Civil Administration’s enforcement officers.

The legal departments of Israel’s security establishment are responsible for this procedural protocol – which is aiding and abetting the creation of a terrorist state in the heart of the Land of Israel. The Palestinian Authority learned and mastered the game ages ago, and continues to build rapidly, illegally, and strategically, all the while flooding the system with nonsensical, futile permit requests in order to delay and eventually prevent enforcement.

Watch this video, and see how the Civil Administration has stacked the deck and undermined the law.

Cover of Regavim’s 2018 report

Regavim: “We exposed the terrorist ties of Palestinian NGOs years ago, and we congratulate Minister of Defense Gantz for his important decision to officially blacklist organizations that have been actively pursuing Israel’s eradication.”

In a report released in 2018 entitled “The Roots of Evil,” the Regavim Movement exposed the connection between the Union of Agricultural Work Committees and the Peoples’ Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Late last week, Israel’s Minister of Defense took the necessary – and long overdue – step of officially banning the UAWC, along with five additional PFLP-affiliated organizations.

Immediately after its publication in 2018, Regavim’s “Roots of Evil” report was presented to the Israeli government – MKs, ministers and other members of the defense establishment – and then to the US Ambassador and other foreign diplomats, as well as Members of the European Parliament.

Founded by George Habash in 1967, the PFLP is a Marxist-Leninist Palestinian terror group, originally supported by the Soviet Union. The PFLP, infamous for carrying out suicide bombings, shootings, and assassinations, hijacking commercial airlines and other attacks that harmed thousands of civilians in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, is responsible for countless deaths and injuries in Israel. The PFLP is designated as a terrorist organization by governments around the world, including the US, EU, Canada, and Israel.

In order to circumvent international sanction while continuing its murderous assault against Israel and its citizens, the PFLP co-opted the discourse of human rights and international law and created a web of “civil society organizations,” which was exposed in a 2015 ruling by Israel’s Minister of Defense: “Civilian activities of the PFLP draw a systematic picture indicating deep involvement in achieving [PFLP] goals – which are terrorist attacks against Israel…”  The PFLP established “civil society” and “charitable” foundations as a means of creating a “halo,” encouraging outside observers to associate the terror group with positive progressive values instead of violence,” using rights-based rhetoric to justify a host of illegal, violent activity and to obscure its ultimate goal – the elimination of Israel.

Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim: “We welcome the important decision taken by the Minister of Defense. Unfortunately, after the publication of our findings in 2008, the terror organization known as UAWC was allowed to continue its activities, which cost innocent lives: the UAWC was actively involved in the murder of Rina Shnerb.”

“The recent decision by Defense Minister Gantz illuminates the direct connection between terrorism and the Palestinian Authority’s aggressive, illegal annexation of Area C – under the guise of ‘human rights’ and ‘humanitarian aid.’ We hope that this important decision will result in the shuttering of these terror organizations and that our defense forces will take the steps necessary to halt the flow of funds that keep these terror fronts afloat.”

Read the full “Roots of Evil” report here.

We pressed, we demanded, we didn’t give up – and the dangerous structure at Yakir junction was torn down!

At the beginning of August, we noticed Arab residents of Judea and Samaria building a structure near the Yakir junction, without the necessary permits. Over the years, shops were built illegally, one after another, next to the main road, leading to traffic accidents going in and out of the junction.

Thanks to Regavim’s intensive pressure on the authorities and the local councils, Civil Administration inspectors came to knock down the structure this week.

This is a chance to commend the Civil Administration for their efforts. However, it’s worth remembering that had enforcement steps been taken on time, the structure wouldn’t have been built in the first place.

We hope that enforcement will be even more effective and swift in the future.

A screenshot of the Kisan village’s Facebook page that notes Swiss involvement in the construction of an illegal school

In early September, there was a special celebration in the village of Kisan in eastern Gush Etzion in honor of the opening of a new school. But, as we told you before, the school was built without permits by the Palestinian Authority.

The construction period was short, and lasted just over a year. As soon as construction started, we sent urgent letters to the Civil Administration and the other Israeli authorities to stop yet another land grab. But that didn’t help. So we went to the Jerusalem District Court, although our petition was rejected because of the State’s promise in the court hearing to enforce the law at site.

But, of course, the law wasn’t enforced, and the school began to function in September 2020. Immediately, we petitioned the Court (again) to request an interim order that would prevent the opening of the school, but the Court didn’t comply with our request. And now, a year later, the illegal school in Kisan celebrates the Israeli authorities’ failure.

And it’s important to mention a line published on the village’s Facebook page: “It’s worth noting that the Kisan school project was funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)”. That’s right, the famously ‘neutral’ Switzerland, that claims not to take any side in any conflict, is defying Israeli law, the European Union charter, and international law. The Swiss government is aiding the Palestinian Authority’s plan to establish a de-facto state in a territory that belongs to Israel according to international agreements.

For years, we’ve been protesting against the gross intervention of European governments in Area C. And for years, the State of Israel has decided to shut its eyes and ears as it squanders state lands. This is a major disgrace – in every sense.

Regavim: Protecting Israel’s Resources, Preserving Israeli Sovereignty