A new Palestinian city is being built "illegally, with no permits, and under the noses of the Civil Administration" a spokesperson for NGO Regavim said Wednesday.
Oved Arad, head of the Regavim field division, raised this issue during a meeting of the Subcommittee for Foreign and Security Affairs for Judea and Samaria. According to their report, the illegal village is being built on ten thousand dunams of land south of Hebron.
The area where the building is taking place is called "live fire zone 917." In the 1980's, there were three areas set up by the Civil Administration designated to settle the Bedouin close to live fire zone 917, but the population has grown at such an exponential rate since then that the three areas have since merged into one continuous urban development the size of a city.
Regavim claims to have reported these illegal construction activities several times to the Civil Administration and was told that orders were being carried out to stop this illegal construction. However, construction continued, with houses, schools, medical clinics, and mosques being built at an alarming rate.
"The Civil Administration is rewarding these Palestinian lawbreakers under the noses of the Israeli public," Oved Arad claimed.
"The Administration is permitting the illegal construction of an entire city, a city which has no central planning, and is completely illegal. This is a scandal which requires further examination," Arad concluded.
Council Chairman MK Moti Yogev said that "we must consider the construction of the Palestinians in Area C. We can't let the EU act here as if this is their territory. There are many countries who donate aid, and lots of money is being invested in financing illegal Palestinian buildings in strategic areas."
These claims were rejected by Gen. Yoav Mordechai, head of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories unit (COGAT). He claims that the situation is the exact opposite of the claims made by Regavim.
"Incomplete quotes have emerged from my discussions with the council, quotes which make it seem as if there is a discriminatory and lenient policy in regards to the Palestinians. I want to make it clear - there is strict enforcement (of the law) vis-à-vis the Palestinians."
Gen. Mordechai went on to state that "enforcement is inclined to be stricter on the Palestinian side that it is on the Israeli side. We have to look at the big picture, and not only look at the administration and how it enforces its policies. There has been a freeze in Palestinian planning (of new cities- ed) for the past two years, and no new building permits have been issued."
The residents also complained about the destruction of a synagogue in Karmei Tzur last week, although the general said that "data regarding the enforcement of policies against the Palestinians is not available to the public due to international policy. To claim that there's one form of enforcement against Palestinians and one against Jews is a baseless argument."
The Civil Administration said in response that "these are clusters of buildings in three areas which were planned by the Civil Administration in the 1980's. The areas were designed to respond to the needs of Bedouin population and the residents of the area over the course of several decades. The construction has been concentrated in these areas for the last 30 years. There have been several instances where the Bedouins violated the agreements, and all the necessary demolition and confiscation orders were made and undertaken."