On Monday morning, the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, under the auspices of the Defense Ministry, uprooted a vineyard near the Yitzhar community in Samaria, following a petition submitted by PA Arabs to Israel’s High Court of Justice, Regavim reported.
The petitioners did not provide a smidgen of proof of ownership of the land on which the vineyard had been planted some four years ago, and yet the vineyard’s Jewish owners were handed a “Disruptive Land-Use Order,” a unique military order permitting the removal of agricultural assets even when no conflicting claim of ownership is submitted or proven.
These orders are used by the Civil Administration exclusively against Jews.
It remains to be seen how the incoming adjunct minister in the defense ministry Bezalel Smotrich who was installed above the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, a unit in the defense ministry that engages in coordinating civilian issues between the Government of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces, international organizations, diplomats, and the Palestinian Authority.
According to Srugim, Smotrich shared on a WhatsApp group: “It’s certainly outrageous, but it’s a kind of grab they’re carrying out before we’ve taken over. It’ll take time.”
In the coming days, Smotrich is expected to meet with the head of the Civil Administrationת Brigadier General Fares Atila, and Major General Ghassan Alian, the coordinator of government operations in the territories. Smotrich plans to spend at least one day a week in his office on the 15th floor of the Ministry of Defense in downtown Tel Aviv. His first order should probably be to restore the stolen land from the Jews of Yitzhar.
According to Regavim, the Arab town of Burin, located some 300 yards from the uprooted orchard, in Area C, has an illegal mosque for which the Civil Administration has issued a demolition order more than 15 years ago. Regavim appealed to the High Court of Justice to compel the Civil Administration to enforce the demolition order, and the government gave its solemn commitment to upholding the law – and yet the illegal mosque is still standing, undisturbed, alongside dozens of additional illegal structures that have been built around it in the interim.
It’s called selective law enforcement, and it is the scourge of every democracy. The progressive forces that imagine themselves the defenders of Israel’s democracy against the “forces of darkness” that recently won a 64-mandate majority in the Knesset, should look into it.
Regavim’s spokesperson called on Minister Smotrich to “tackle this absurdity on his very first full day in office,” arguing that, “the Disruptive Land-Use Order is a draconian measure that has been applied in a wildly discriminatory fashion, and should be struck down without delay. This was the conclusion reached years ago by the Special Commission headed by Justice Edmond Levy, and we call upon Minister Smotrich to take this long-overdue step.”
January marks the 13th year in which the late Justice Levy’s report has been ignored by the man who appointed him, one Benjamin Netanyahu. His January 2012 Report on the Legal Status of Building in Judea and Samaria concluded that Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria does not constitute an occupation, and the Israeli settlements are legal under international law. It recommended the legalization of unauthorized Jewish settlement outposts by the state and proposed new guidelines for settlement construction.
Yes, dear readers, the culprit in the uprooting of Yitzhar’s vineyard as well as thousands of similar crimes against close to half a million Israelis who live in Judea and Samaria is not Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid, Tzipi Livni, or even Joe Biden.
Moshe Shmueli, Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria, stated: “For 15 years, the Civil Administration has failed to enforce the law against nearby illegal Palestinian construction – despite its commitment to the High Court of Justice. On the other hand, it has taken swift, even brutal enforcement action and uprooted a Jewish vineyard, costing the owners hundreds of thousands of shekels in losses. The rule of law must be equal, or it cannot be called the rule of law. This morning’s demolition is one more example of how far off track the Civil Administration has strayed.”
We’re waiting for Smotrich.