I immediately dropped what I was doing to go see for myself, and a few minutes later I arrived at the spot where I saw Palestinian Authority trucks and tractors hard at work.
The stream, which is located in the Israeli-controlled Area C portion (such control granted to Israel in the Oslo Accord) of Judea & Samaria, is also located near the Arab town of Za'atara, which is under the rule of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
It is no secret that the PA aims to occupy and seize control over as much land as possible in Judea and Samaria – including state land in Area C – by illegally planting trees, building homes, and constructing roads.
In 2017, the PA began extensive work in the riverbed. Thousands of trucks poured huge quantities of dirt and construction waste from surrounding illegal buildings into the riverbed, turning it into yet another road established by the PA in recent years.
The PA established an alternative road system that it uses to smuggle weapons, drugs, and even women away from the eyes of Israel's security forces.
But the problem is that Israel's security forces do see how the Palestinian Authority (aided by the European Union) is stealing land and suffocating Israeli communities, but nonetheless is not taking concrete action against it.
Back to Sunday morning. When we arrived at the spot and witnessed the massive construction taking place, we immediately reported it to the relevant authorities. We called the Israeli Civil Administration and its newly established "Operations Room C," and we also contacted the IDF company that is situated close by.
"In order to get there we'll need to travel through the village, which is problematic and dangerous," the company replied.
An hour goes by. In the meantime, we continued to film and a tractor driver saw us and eventually turned back toward the Arab town. After they already left I finally heard back from the Civil Administration's operations room: "The people you reported fled before we could arrive. Thank you for your report."
The Land of Israel sends you its gratitude.
Moving on to Thursday that same week. Despite the fact that Israel is in lockdown, I received a call about land being plowed near Nokdim. Lo and behold, who showed up to greet the Arab workers (who were from Bethlehem and didn't even live around here)? The same folks from the Civil Administration.
"It's their land. It's private land, and they need to cultivate it," the Civil Administration personnel explained.
After looking into it, we discovered that those Arabs have never before plowed that land, which is in fact State land. They simply claimed it was theirs. They had no documents and no proof.
But evidently that didn't faze the folks at the Civil Administration, who came armed with an order declaring that spot a closed military area and ordered us to leave.
I left the "closed area" but continued to film the plowing from further away, but that didn't sit well with the Civil Administration and the police that they called.
They ordered me to stop filming and to leave the area, to which I replied that it is my democratic right to film the injustice that is occurring. For that, I was arrested.
The police claimed that I was disrupting their work and therefore needed to be detained. Four police cars arrived to the area in order to see to it that I was taken away, when on a normal day in Gush Etzion there are barely two police cars to handle the daily happenings.
This entire exchange by the way can be viewed online, as I was livestreamingthe entire incident on Im Tirtzu's Hebrew Facebook page.
What the public is unaware of is that the reason for the Civil Administration's surprising alacrity when it comes to defending illegal Arab construction is due to a legal petition (#4308) filed in 2019 by the European government-funded radical left-wing NGO "Haqel." The court hasn't even reached a verdict on the petition, but apparently the mere filing of the petition has been enough to bring the Civil Administration down to both its knees.
Combating land grabs in Area C? The Civil Administration has other priorities.
Of course, the ones ultimately responsible for this lawlessness are generations of Israeli governments, which continue to allow the Civil Administration to act like an irresponsible and failed entity in the face of the Palestinian Authority's systematic effort to illegally seize land in Judea and Samaria.
If the Civil Administration is unable (or unwilling) to protect and save the Land of Israel, then someone else needs to. The time has come for a comprehensive reform, or sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, or both. For the sake of our children, and for the sake of our future.
Tom Nisani is a resident of Nokdim and the Director of Education of Im Tirtzu, Israel's largest grassroots Zionist movement.