IDF demolishes same illegal structures Palestinians keep building with EU funding on military firing range.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
An Israeli watchdog organization said Thursday that the Palestinian Authority is behind the illegal structures demolished by the IDF earlier this week that were built on a military firing range.
Foreign news reports on Wednesday claimed the IDF demolished a Palestinian ‘village’ in the Jordan Valley, but a spokesperson for the organization Regavim that monitors Palestinian activity said the Palestinian Bedouins who claimed the area don’t own it at all “and never have.”
The tents and other structures were demolished Tuesday by the IDF in fields just east of the town of Tubas in Samaria where the IDF has for years operated a training range. It is not the first time Palestinians have erected a makeshift outpost, with news agencies documenting similar attempts in the same location dating back to at least 2013.
The Israeli NGO said European taxpayers are being duped.
“The Palestinian Authority uses European funding and the Europeans become directly involved in creating illegal [Palestinian] outposts in strategically critical areas,” Regavim spokeswoman Naomi Kahn told World Israel News.
The AFP news agency headline on Wednesday that said “Israel demolishes Palestinian homes in Jerusalem area” was changed by Al Jazeera to “Israeli army razes entire village” with Israel’s Ynet changing the headline to “IDF destroys Palestinian village.” The American NPR network claimed “Israeli authorities demolished a rural Palestinian hamlet.”
However, Kahn said the incident is just one of many in an ongoing Palestinian Authority program of getting funding to put up housing on lands that the PA agreed in the Oslo Accords would be controlled by Israel, commonly referred to as Area C.
The Civil Administration under the IDF that runs civilians affairs in Area C issued a demolition order for the structures that were erected on an army firing range without building permits.
Kahn said the Palestinian attempts to fund innocent people to move into an army firing range “is dangerous.”
“It is not in their best interests, but the PA is using these people as pawns in order to control this territory,” Kahn said, adding that the same tactic is used against other IDF training areas in Judea and Samaria.
“The Palestinian Authority is responsible for them. The money that is being used to build these illegal outposts could just as easily be used to settle them in the open spaces, the available land reserves that are in areas A and B, which is where they should be,” Kahn said, referring to the areas under control of the Palestinian Authority.
“Areas A and B are 60% empty. The PA has land reserves to build communities there, it’s not like they have any crisis and there’s no room. If they wanted to take care of these people and give them normal living conditions they would certainly be able to do so,” Kahn said.
“The civil administration (COGAT) has done everything it can to avoid this sort of confrontation,” Kahn said.
AFP said the incident was reported by “an AFP photographer at the scene, who found dozens of people left homeless,” and quoted PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh who claimed that the IDF “completely demolished the village of Homsa al-Baqia, leaving around 80 people homeless.”
The AFP report noted that the area involved is in “Area C that is fully controlled by Israel,” acknowledging that “under Israeli rules, Palestinians cannot build structures in the area without permits, which are typically refused, and demolitions are common.”
The left-wing lobby group B’Tselem claimed that the demolition was carried out because “Israel was making use of the fact that everyone’s attention is currently set elsewhere,” implying the U.S. presidential election. B’Tselem spokesman Amit Gilutz admitted to NPR that material in the outpost was “funded by Britain, Sweden and other European Union countries.”