Photo Credit: Courtesy of Regavim
COGAT bulldozers demolish an illegal Arab resort in Binyamin.

In years past, Israel’s defense ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) was mostly in charge of going after “illegal outposts,” as part of a 50+ year effort to curb Jewish settlements and encourage Arab expansion in Judea and Samaria.

COGAT is still in the business of destroying Jewish homes, in most cases while the homeowners are doing their reserve duty in Gaza or on Lebanon’s border. But since Religious Zionism Chairman Bezalel Smotrich became an adjunct minister in the defense ministry in charge of the civil administration, COGAT, albeit begrudgingly, started demolishing illegal Arab real estate.

The illegal Arab resort in Binyamin before demolition. / Courtesy of Regavim

A case in point: in an enforcement operation by the inspection unit in the Civil Administration, this week a luxury resort complex built illegally by PA Arabs east of Duma village in Binyamin was demolished, including its three dining areas and swimming pools.

Needless to say, the illegal resort is located in Area C, which, according to the Oslo agreements, is under full Israeli control, both civilian and military, and so requires a construction permit. It didn’t have one.

Back in 2021, in response to a Supreme Cout petition of the Regavim movement, the state pledged to destroy the illegal Arab resort “based on priorities.”

In 2020, the Regavim area coordinators recognized that PA Arabs from Duma village were carrying out work to prepare the area and pave an access axis road from the village leading to the open areas, in the general direction of Ma’ale Ephraim. Regavim contacted COGAT demanding that the work be stopped. Months passed without a response, while the PA Arab invasion continued unabated, complete with electricity infrastructures and the construction of building foundations.

In 2021, Regavim petitioned the High Court of Justice against the state authorities “who abandon the area and allow criminals to do there as they please.”

The petition recounted Regavim’s repeated appeals to the authorities, who responded time and time again in a bored tone, saying, “If necessary, supervision and enforcement procedures will be taken in accordance with protocol.” Naturally, no one in COGAT did anything.

Duma village is the home of terrorists who carried out attacks against Jews, most recently the murder in April of the boy Binyamin Achimeir HY”D.

This week’s action joins a series of significant demolitions that have been carried out in recent months and according to the Regavim movement indicate a welcome changing trend.

“Any enforcement like this creates deterrence and curbs the rampant construction,” says Moshe Shmueli, Judea and Samaria coordinator for Regavim. “The Civil Administration was forced to do what it refused to do for years, and we welcome it. The reality on the ground is that at any given moment hundreds of PA Arab vehicles are operating, invading the open areas, and much more massive work is required to deal with the scope of these violations.”

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