The State Control Committee on Monday conducted a tour of Judea and Samaria, focusing on Area C, the area under full Israeli civilian and military control – and was stunned at the amount of illegal building being done by Arab residents of these areas.
The Committee left the confines of the Knesset in the wake of a report by the State Comptroller, which railed against the government's lack of enforcement of laws against illegal building in Palestinian villages in Judea and Samaria. According to Committee chairman MK Amnon Cohen (Shas), “it's clear that the Civil Administration, which is supposed to be on top of this, is not doing its job responsibly.”
The tour was organized by MK Orit Struk (Jewish Home), who said that “the State of Israel must decide if it is a state of law or a state of legal chaos. Based on what we see, it is the latter” in Judea and Samaria.
According to the report, there are some 35,000 illegally built structures in Area C alone. Civil Administration (CA) records show that the office has files on only some 13,000 of them, however. But there is almost no enforcement even in cases which the CA knows about; almost all its resources are dedicated to tearing down illegal structures built by Jewish residents of Area C. What little enforcement the CA performs in Arab villages is against barns and structures over wells – almost never against residences.
The illegal building brings in its wake other illegal activities, including illegal dumps which pollute the water table, and the MKs saw some of examples of this first-hand. Because anti-pollution laws in Israel are civilian laws, they do not apply in Judea and Samaria, which is administered by the IDF and the Civil Administration – so there is no way for Israel to prevent this pollution, which also affects water and land in Israel.
Struk said that “the lack of enforcement of environmental laws in Judea and Samaria is causing damage that will hurt the environment for decades. This is damaging to the health of both Jews and Arabs, and must be stopped somehow.”
The visit came on the same day as the findings of a study were released which revealed that the majority of Israelis want to see Judea and Samaria remain under Israeli control.