Israel curbs illegal Bedouin construction in the south

The agriculture minister says his campaign has significantly curbed illegal construction by Bedouins in the south of the country. 

By Jack Gold, World Israel News

Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel has been leading what he considers a successful campaign to end illegal construction by Bedouins in the south of the country as well as land grabs and other forms of lawlessness prevalent in the sector, a report by his ministry shows.

According to a report by the Agriculture Ministry on Monday, the number of buildings illegally constructed in the Negev plummeted by 78 percent over the past few years, including a nearly 50-percent drop in 2017 in comparison to 2015.

The ministry also reported that enforcement operations against illegal construction have significantly increased.

According to the report, in 2017, 3,421 illegal structures were built in the Negev, a 45-percent drop from almost double that in 2015, when 6,211 illegal buildings went up in the Negev.

In that same year, the enforcement authorities demolished 2,172 illegal structures in the Negev, while the number of demolitions in 2017 was 2,523, a 16-percent increase in comparison with 2015.

Ariel said that the encouraging data indicate a proper and effective blend between determined enforcement and intensive marketing of lands to the Bedouin sector. Ariel noted that given the steep drop in illegal construction, ending unauthorized construction in the south was a realistic goal.

Data presented on the construction offenses of the Bedouin sector also showed a significant decrease in the extent of the illegal land takeover outside the town boundaries.

In 2015, illegal construction outside the town lines in the Bedouin communities in the Negev was recorded at 3,900 structures, while at the end of 2016 there were only 1,700 illegal structures beyond the town limits, consisting of a 56-percent decrease. Some 90 percent of the illegal structures were built up to 50 meters from existing buildings so that the phenomenon of land takeover has been dramatically reduced.

“I am happy to announce a revolution in the Negev regarding the illegal construction. The enforcement agencies, together with the proper activities of the Authority for Development and Settlement of the Bedouin in the Negev acting on my instructions, created a new situation in the Negev. In 2019, we will aspire to zero illegal construction in the Negev,” Ariel stated.

“We have increased the means of enforcement, we have demonstrated forceful governance together with significant land marketing, and we are on the right path to dramatically reducing and later eliminating the illegal takeover of state lands in the Negev. The Negev will no longer be a no-mans-land area without governance,” he declared.