Illegal Arab squatters on IDF base plead helplessness while hiding wealth, says report

The Illegal Bedouin squatters were evicted after nine years of herding on a Jordan Valley IDF training base.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A Bedouin clan that was evicted Wednesday after years of squatting in an IDF firing range pleaded helplessness to human rights organizations while hiding extensive wealth, Channel 20 reported exclusively Thursday evening.

The group had been living illegally since 2012 in a Jordan Valley training base. When the Civil Administration, the bureaucratic body in charge of the region, finally brought bulldozers to destroy their temporary huts and tents, human rights organizations went public about the “unfortunates” whose homes were being destroyed, said the report.

The network quoted a Haaretz article in which one of the Bedouin said that the Administration had “taken away everything we had,” and now “young children are sitting in the boiling sun – what did they do to the State of Israel?”

However, the reporter revealed an exclusive picture of at least one of the squatters holding large wads of money “that was paid to those same Bedouin invaders,” he said. “That same person who is holding the pile of cash, apparently Jordanian money, told an Israeli civilian who took the picture … ‘I got two million shekels.’”

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According to the United Nations, 38 illegal Bedouin encampments can be found throughout the Jordan Valley in supposedly closed zones that the IDF uses for training purposes. Many have been there for years if not decades.

This would lead to the conclusion that the Civil Administration and the army generally ignore their presence unless an IDF exercise in the area may endanger their lives, or a specific case is brought to court.

Last November, after numerous legal appeals were exhausted, the IDF demolished one such site on the western edge of the region, which the Bedouin called Khirbet Humsa.

According to a statement by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the “enforcement activity was carried out by the Supervision Unit of the Civil Administration against 7 tents and 8 pens which were illegally constructed in a firing range located in the Jordan Valley.”

Anti-Israel human rights groups such as B’Tselem had counter-claimed that some 75 structures belonging to about 11 families were destroyed by the IDF in an “inhumane” act.

The High Court of Justice had ruled, however, that the residents had “no recognized property rights in these areas. These are intruders who use these areas for grazing,” and everything they had built was illegal.