Did Israel allow building illegal Arab road to bypass IDF checkpoints?

Arab claims that it was ‘agricultural work’ were believed over soldiers on the ground who gave an eyewitness report.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Civil Administration is allowing the construction of a new illegal Arab road in Samaria that would bypass security checkpoints, Channel 20 reported this week.

The IDF has been intermittently blocking the main road to Al-Mughayyir, an Arab village that is known by its Jewish neighbors for numerous rock-throwing attacks and other terrorist activities coming from its residents.

On Monday morning, a resident of the nearby Israeli community of Kochav Hashachar discovered an Arab excavator digging up land right off the two-lane highway that serves the region, within eyesight of the village. He told Channel 20 that he immediately reported the incipient security breach, both to army forces and to the Administration, which is the bureaucratic body in charge of Judea and Samaria.

“An army patrol arrived in a few minutes and the soldiers passed on a report in an orderly way,” he said. “At first they didn’t want to listen to us, but then the army ordered the soldiers to confiscate the excavator keys until the issue was clarified.”

Although the soldiers gave an eyewitness report on digging machinery at work and piles of sandstone fragments used as a substrate for paving roads, the Administration officials, who were not on the ground, apparently did not believe them.

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“In a few minutes, the second the Administration got involved, the situation turned around,” the resident recounted. “The soldiers said that this was breaking through a new road, the Arabs said it was agricultural work, [and] the Administration instructed the soldiers to return the keys to the Arab, who could continue working.”

One of the soldiers in the patrol that reported the incident told civilians in the area afterwards, “While the soldiers are talking to [the Arabs] they are laughing at us. Even if we stop the work today, they will return tomorrow with a permit. An area they did not have a permit for, tomorrow they will already have one.”

This part of Judea and Samaria is considered Area C, under full Israeli military and civilian control. A recent government report covered hundreds of incidents in which the Palestinian Authority was in effect making a land grab to expand its territory by illegally constructing roads and buildings in the region.

When Channel 20 asked the Civil Administration what had happened, its response was that when clarification regarding work being done in Area C “that was not state land” was requested, “the request was examined and will be handled in accordance with official authorizations and procedures.”