Photo Credit: courtesy, Regavim
The PA's newest foothold in IDF Firing Zone 917: Umm al Qisra Municpality in Area C.

The Palestinian Authority has issued a celebratory announcement, establishing a new municipal authority, “Kfar Umm Qisra in the Hebron Governate.”

The location of this spanking new municipality? On Israeli state land, in IDF Firing Zone 917.


The Palestinian Authority’s Ministerial Council announced its decision on 4 June, 2024, appointing a committee charged with preparing for elections to the local council.

Umm Qisra, also known as Zwidan, is located near the town of Yatta in the Hebron Governate, and will incorporate a number of small clusters of illegal structures that have sprung up in IDF Firing Zone 917.

The location of this new “township” – adjacent to Umm Daraj and the Judean Desert nature reserve designated under the Wye Agreement (“Oslo Accords III) as a no-construction zone – is in Area C, under full Israeli jurisdiction per international law.

That has not stopped the Palestinian Authority nor its foreign government backers from violating the agreement and helping the enemies of the Jewish State seize Israeli state land.

This particular region, and most particularly Firing Zone 917, has been a focal point for the campaign of massive illegal construction and encroachment orchestrated by the Palestinian Authority, funded and supported by the European Union and other international actors.

The land on which this quiet battle has been waged over the past several years is registered to the State of Israel, and was declared an active firing zone for IDF use in 1980 – long before any of the so-called “villages of Masafer Yatta” appeared on the ground, and decades before construction of the first of hundreds of illegal structures that now stand in the firing zone.

In fact, all of the PA’s attempts to justify the wild takeover of Israeli state land in this area were repeatedly rejected by the High Court of Justice.

The Regavim Movement first petitioned the High Court of Justice in 2016, demanding that the Ministry of Defense and other responsible enforcement bodies halt the free-for-all of illegal construction that has resulted in the creation of an all-new Palestinian Authority-controlled city in an active military training zone.

Last Thursday (June 13), Israel’s Civil Administration demolished a number of structures at the site.

However, according to data collected by Regavim, an Israeli nonprofit watchdog group that monitors illegal construction and other abuses of land resources, the residents of illegal clusters in this area have the full support of the Palestinian Authority, including financial aid, infrastructure and agriculture development projects, as well as legal support and representation against any attempts by the Israeli authorities to enforce the law.

A significant percentage of the illegal Palestinian Authority settlement enterprise in this area is supported and funded by foreign interests, including the European Union, foreign governments, public and private European foundations, Gulf states and others.

“The establishment of this new ‘municipality’ is not a random development,” emphasized Avraham Binyamin, Director of the Regavim Policy Division.

“It is a carefully planned step, a purposeful, strategic element of the Palestinian Authority’s declared policy of political expansion through facts on the ground that create contiguous strategic bands of control.

“The State of Israel cannot continue to turn a blind eye and content itself with sporadic, ineffectual enforcement gestures. What is needed is a systemic policy to maintain effective control of the territory under Israeli jurisdiction.

“We call upon the government to adopt a proactive stance of action rather than platitudes, a policy that addresses the strategic threats posed by rampant PA violations of the law and protects Israel’s core national interests.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.