During a Wednesday morning meeting of the subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Security, the Regavim movement revealed worrisome details regarding the ongoing construction of a new Arab city on the edge of the desert, well inside Israeli-governed Area C in south Hebron Mountain, and, in fact in an area slated for an IDF firing zone, Srugim reported.
The accelerated construction is spread over an area of some ten thousand acres, and includes building hundreds of residential homes, schools, clinics and mosques. Foreign elements are funding the blatantly illegal development of the city’s road and electric infrastructure, including the EU, United Arab Emirates, and Abu Dhabi.
Back in the 1980s a small number of Bedouin families resided in temporary dwellings in Firing Zone 917. During the debate Wednesday morning, representatives of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) claimed the entire development was limited to a “cluster of buildings” in three areas which were constructed by the Coordinator in the mid-80s. “These areas were intended to respond to the needs of the Bedouin population which has lived in the place for decades,” they told the subcommittee. “The entire construction has centered within those areas over the past 30 years. There have been a few cases which exceeded the agreements and against those all the necessary warrants were issued and they were demolished and confiscated.”
But Regavim rejects the Coordinator’s claims, saying that construction in those areas has been overlooked on purpose, despite the obvious absence of outline plans and building permits as required by law. Moreover, according to Regavim, the rate of construction has been increased to the point where the illegal development will create a contiguous territory of a city spanning 10,000 acres.
“COGAT is handing Palestinian lawbreakers a reward under the public radar of the citizens of Israel, permitting them with a wink to pursue wild and illegal construction of a giant city which fails every planning and legal criteria,” said Oved Arad, Director of the field dept. at Regavim. “This is a scandal that requires Israel’s comptroller to conduct a deep inspection of the issues. In any event, the rise of this pirate city must be stopped at once, and the policy of enforcing planning and construction laws must be applied as it is done everywhere else.”