IDF demolishes 7 EU-funded West Bank Beduin structures
In a move likely to further anger the European Union, the IDF on Sunday demolished seven prefab buildings in the West Bank Beduin encampment of Sateh al-Bahr that the EU had funded.
Two weeks ago, EU Ambassador Lars Faaborg Andersen warned the coordinator of government activities in the territories that such demolitions would harm EU-Israel ties.
COGAT explained on Sunday that “the supervision unit of the civil administration has confiscated seven caravans which illegally erected next to Mitzpe Jericho last week.”
The community of 70 Jahalin Beduin live near the city of Ma’aleh Adumim, along Route 1 in the corridor leading down from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea.
The nongovernmental groups Regavim and the Jerusalem Periphery Forum, which monitor illegal Beduin and Palestinian building in that area, welcomed the IDF’s quick response.
The forum’s land coordinator, Yaniv Aharoni, accused the EU of “bullish behavior,” and of harming Israeli rule of law in the area by continually promoting illegal construction.
His group and Regavim have long argued that the EU is helping the Palestinian create facts on the ground to solidify the Arab presence in Area C of the West Bank.
Of the EU, Aharoni said, there is no end to their “chutzpah.”
Sunday’s demolitions, he said, “send a clear message that the EU that their game playing is over.”
The EU’s Embassy in Tel Aviv could not be reached for comment. In the past it has said that it is providing modular housing to the Palestinian and Beduin communities in that area as a form of humanitarian assistance allowed under international law.
It has further explained that if Israel would grant these communities building permits they would not have build illegally. Israel wishes to relocate the encampments to permanent housing near Jericho, but has not secured the Jahalin Beduin’s agreement to do so.
The EU supports the Jahalin Beduin in their quest to remain where they are.
Regavim and the Jerusalem Periphery Forum have argued that many of the encampments are new, and present an attempt by the PA to gain control of the area, and prevent it from being included in a future drawing of Israel’s permanent borders.
In Paris on Saturday, US Secretary of State John Kerry called for the Palestinian development of Area C of the West Bank.
“Area C needs to open up to greater development and commerce [and] more movement [for the Palestinians],” Kerry said.
Under the 1995 Oslo II Interim Agreements, the West Bank was divided into: the PA-controlled Area A, which includes all the Palestinian cities and most of the Arab population of the West Bank; Area B, where Israel retains security control while civil affairs are handled by the PA; and Area C, in which Israel is responsible for both security and all land-related civil matters. While the PA is responsible for education and medical services to the Palestinian population in Area C, construction and infrastructure necessary for these services remains in the hands of Israel’s Civil Administration for Judea and Samaria.
THE IDF DEMOLISHES seven prefab structures Sunday near Mitzpeh Jericho. The buildings, paid for by the EU, were meant to house Jahalin Beduin.