Jewish residents: Bedouin squatters carrying out ‘mass takeover’ in Jordan Valley

An Israeli NGO is warning of a war of attrition as Bedouin lay claim to large swathes of Israeli state land in the Jordan Valley.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

Residents of Maskiyot, a Jewish community in the Jordan Valley, are warning that Bedouin are carrying out a “mass-scale takeover” of state land in the Jordan Valley. The Bedouin are from an illegal outpost adjacent to Maskiyot who have been served with demolition orders by Israeli authorities.

The organization Regavim says that the Bedouin from the outpost near Maskiyot are defying the demolition orders “thanks to the support they receive from the Palestinian Authority and a consortium of European organizations.”

Regavim, an Israeli NGO, pursues action in the Israeli court system against illegal construction undertaken by Palestinian Arabs or Bedouin in Israel, including Judea and Samaria.

The squatters at the outpost are accused of cultivating a huge tract of land, using heavy equipment, in an attempt to establish facts on the ground that will be hard to reverse.

“According to the system of law in force in Judea and Samaria, agricultural use enables squatters to establish certain legal rights to the land,” says Yishai Hemo, Regavim’s field coordinator for Judea and Samaria.

“In this case, as in others, despite the fact that the land in question is state-owned and is registered as such in the land registry, if the Civil Administration fails to enforce the law at the earliest stage, the result will most likely be a long, drawn-out, exhausting legal battle which the government often simply does not bother fighting,” he said.

In December, Regavim released its “Roots of Evil” report, which contains a survey of what it says is the full extent of the methodical program of agricultural land-seizure being carried out by the Palestinian Authority and its foreign supporters.

Israel’s Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel has been leading what he says is a successful campaign to end illegal construction by Bedouin in the south of the country as well as land grabs and other forms of lawlessness prevalent in the sector.