The State Comptroller, Israel’s version of an ombudsman, issued a critical report Wednesday exposing wholesale lawlessness in Judea and Samaria, known in most media as the West Bank but which in fact are the “Wild West” Bank in some areas.
State Comptroller Shapira wrote that “everyone does as he sees fit” in Judea and Samaria. He cited Jews as well as Arabs for building and taxpaying violations, but most of his accusations towards Jews stem from lack of manpower to collect property taxes.
The Comptroller said the lack of investigations is costing the government millions of dollars. Some of that money is being kept in the pockets of Jews, but a vast majority of it is in the satchels of Arab residents in the area.
The southern Hevron Hills, where I live, easily wins as the most lawless area in Judea and Samaria. As for illegal building, Shapira’s report was couched in words that were politically correct. He stated that both Jews and Arabs violate building laws, but he wrote elsewhere in the report that with the exception of approximately five percent of Arabs in Judea Samaria, none of them pay fees for property and leases on buildings.
The report’s claim that Jews build illegally prompted Peace Now to demand to threaten a petition to the Supreme Court to order enforcement of regulations.
Peace Now should be careful what it wishes, because it might get what it wants – in the face.
The fact is that building inspectors usually pounce on Jews for building even a porch without a permit. The Comptroller’s charges against Jews in Judea and Samaria are probably true when it comes to outposts. There is no doubt that Jews build there faster than authorities can move. However, when the Defense Ministry wants to, it has no problem ordering the Border Police to bring in bulldozers in the middle of the night, pulling young women and babies out of their beds, and plowing over their houses.
Adding insult to injury, authorities invite Arabs to move in and pick up the property. That policy has been a lot less frequent since Ehud Barak did Israel a big favor and quit politics – again.
Enforcement of building regulations in Judea and Samaria is near zero when it comes to Arabs. A case point is Highway 60, the only road that connects Arad, to the south, with the southern Hevron Hills, Kiryat Arba, Gush Etzion and Jerusalem.
The European Union – the same body that has announced it will not be involved with any financial dealings with Israelis in Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights and what was once Jordanian-occupied Jerusalem – has poured tens of millions of dollars into the southern Hevron Hills, paying Arabs to move in and donating everything from schools to wind turbines.
Illegal building is rampant and violates all building codes. Dozens of homes and stores now border Highway 60, without the legal distance to keep the buildings from literally siting on the highway’s shoulders.
As for lack of manpower, the police have no problem conducting criminal investigations against Jews within 24 hours after an Arab files a complaint.
When a Jew files a complaint against an Arab, it is – without exaggeration – almost always ignored. If the police every get around to investigating, they often end up according the Jew. The reason for the lack of enforcement against Arabs is not a lack of manpower. It is from a lack of will and an unstated police policy of “malign neglect” when it comes to Jews outside of the main population centers in Judea and Samaria. It was the same government attitude towards Jews in Gush Katif that contributed to the lack of security against Arab terrorists and created a sentiment that the country would be better off without Jews living in Gaza.
No one at the time listened to warnings that Israel also would be worse off with missile attacks on Ashkelon, Rehovot, and Tel Aviv.
The Comptroller also cited lawlessness on the highways in Judea and Samaria.
Traffic safety is a deadly joke.
Occasionally, when the police want to punish Jews for “price tag” attacks, they set up roadblocks and give out tickets for worn tires or broken windshield wipers.
Arabs are rarely stopped, at least not in the southern Hevron Hills. Massive complaints by area residents recently brought out the police for a brief traffic check, but when police give out tickets to Arabs, that usually is the end of it. The Arab drivers do not need Israeli licenses, so they don’t pay fines. They often drive without licenses and with unlicensed cars.
The southern Hevron hills is categorically the most dangerous place in the country for motorists. Arab drivers routinely drive on the hilly and curvy two-lane road as if it were the Jersey Turnpike.
They not only pass on a curve, they also often pass another Arab vehicle that is passing on a curve, using the left shoulder to maneuver and assuming that any car coming in the opposite direction is going to play dodge’em.
The most dangerous element in driving on Highway 60 is not Arab terrorists trying to cause a fatal crash by throwing rocks,. It is Arab drivers hell-bent on committing suicide so long as he can kill a few Jews at the same. It is not intentional. They simply don’t care.
That is their lifestyle in the southern Hevron Hills, which was barren of Jews and Arabs until Jews started to move in in 1986, for the first time in 1,500 years. Then the Arabs, sponsored by international leftists, all of a sudden laid claims to land that is not found on any land registry.
They have taken over most of what used to be government land, and as the Comptroller’s report indicates, they have established de facto anarchy in the area, with government help of turning a blind eye.
About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.
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