The Regavim Movement is an organization of young, Israeli idealists dedicated to preserving Israel's lands from illegal encroachment by non-Zionist elements as well as to preserving its environment and natural resources.
Its members were not surprised by the events today on the northern border. The movement's spokesmen told Israel National News today that over a year ago they appealed to the High Court of Justice against what was happening in the Golan Heights Druze town of Majdal Shams and claimed that the state of Israel was well on the way to losing sovereignty in the region.
Regavim has proof of Syrian involvement in Druze affairs in the Golan Heights. It recently warned that Syria would make use of the connections it has built to try to set the area "on fire" in order to aim protest at the northern border and deflect it from the presidential palace in Damascus.
The writing was not only on the wall – the movement stated today – but on the border fence itself.
The movement’s coordinators, who work in nature preserves in the northern Golan Heights, documented the illegal building in the nature preserves of Mt. Hermon by pro-Syria Druze residents of Majdal Shams, including multi story buildings only a few meters from the border fence. These could serve as hiding places for infiltrators and might leave IDF soldiers exposed to sniper fire.
In the framework of their appeal to the High Court, filed against that illegal building, just last week Regavim monitors came to Majdal Shams and documented that building was going on as before there despite their obtaining a High Court order prohibiting such work.
Bezalel Smuttrich, Regavim spokesman, said today, “For two years the Regavim movement has warned the state and legal authorities about the loss of Israeli sovereignty in the Druze settlements in the northern Golan Heights, in general, and in Majdal Shams in particular, and about the dangerous repercussions of the Druze-Syrian connections and coordination on the Golan Heights.
"Regavim has warned for two years about the establishment of alternate planning commissions by the Druze Wakf which evade the Israeli planning institutions, and aim to take control of state lands and harm the Mt. Hermon nature preserve, and which have even tried to ignore the Israeli legal authorities and appeal to the High Court themselves.”
Regavim also warned about the laissez faire police treatment in the investigation and the light sentencing of criminals who committed violence against Israeli legal representatives and police in the last round of disturbances in Majdal Shams. They warned repeatedly about the dangers of the large quantity of illegal building on the margins of the town, only meters from the Syrian border.
Regavim northern district coordinator Meir Deutsch, who has followed with great concern what is happening in the north for the last few years, was not surprised by the events this morning. Deutsch, who documents the illegal building and is in constant communication with heads of regional authorities and with northern residents, turned to everyone possible for help. He tried written notices, meetings in the Knesset with policy makers, on site tours with opinion makers, public figures and journalists.
From his correspondence with the authorities and with law enforcement figures, a gloomy picture emerged – Regavim sounded the alarm, and the authorities just passed the buck.
“We approached the Internal Defense Minister who oversees the police, we turned to the Construction Minister who is in charge of land management for Israeli lands, including state lands on which illegal building is taking place to the extent of thousands of dunams. We turned to the Interior Minister who is in charge of the building monitoring unit – we of course received a reply that our inquiry is acknowledged and will be handled soon, but in fact nothing happened. Also the appeal to the High Court has unfortunately not been successful in halting the out of control situation there.”
Smuttrich concludes: “In this case the writing is not only on the wall. It is on the walls of the multi story buildings that have been built illegally next to the border fence, but everyone chooses to avert their eyes. The events today are the result of cooperation between residents of Majdal Shams and the Syrians and of refusal to enforce the law on the part of the Israeli authorities.
"Sovereignty is not a theoretical issue. When it is not enforced, it no longer exists."
In order to prevent repetition of mass infiltration in the future, aided by Majdal Shams residents, Regavim calls on the legal authorities to return and re-establish the country’s sovereignty de facto in the region and take firm practical measures for this purpose.”
Deutsch concludes: “The Israeli government needs to make a strategic decision – to recover the sovereignty in the north – or it will find itself again coping with events like those that took place today on the Syrian border with Majdal Shams.”