Demolishing an illegal structure near Efrat
Demolishing an illegal structure near Efrat Regavim

The Civil Authority's supervisory unit, accompanied by IDF and Border Police forces, carried out a large-scale enforcement operation at four sites in Judea and Samaria where Arabs had built illegally: northern Efrat, eastern Binyamin, Wadi Susi in Samaria, and on a military live-fire training area in the southern Hevron Hills.

The demolitions proceeded without incident with the exception of the demolition in the southern Hebron Hills which was presented by foreign media as the destruction of an operational school, whereas in fact, the building was only a week old. At the Mitzpeh Yair outpost, a concrete foundation was destroyed.

Most of the buildings that were destroyed were small and some were recently erected temporary structures or in the process of being built. Almost all were uninhabited - the exception was the only older structure that was demolished, a building near the perimeter fence around the city of Efrat, which was built illegally on land designated for agriculture. A Palestinian family had moved into the structure and after several attempts by the Regavim movement to alert the authorities and persuade them to enforce the law at the site, the building was finally demolished.

In a military live-fire training area in the southern Hevron Hills, a portable building that was illegally erected overnight last week was dismantled. The day after erecting it, the Palestinians received an eviction order, but they ignored it and continued to build. Yesterday during the eviction, left-wing activists arrived, and together with the Palestinians, decorated the building with flags and a sign describing the building as a school, creating a media provocation at the scene.

"This enforcement operation demonstrates two things," said Menashe Shmueli, Regavim's field coordinator. "First and foremost, when the state wants to take control, it knows how to do so. Second, choosing small and unimportant buildings, most of which were uninhabited, when there are huge, illegally built structures nearby, suggests that the authorities were motivated simply by a desire to boost the numbers of demolitions in advance of the end-of-year report."

Gidon Margalit, a resident of Efrat, said: "We conduct video surveillance of these criminals who steal state property in broad daylight. We stand with the authorities in this morning's operation, yet, it is clear that this is just a drop in the ocean. Across from my home, a building that was demolished two months ago has already been rebuilt, in the exact same place, with assistance from the EU. The construction took place at night and in the early hours of the morning, when we could see a long line of cement trucks. All of the buildings received demolition orders, but that doesn't stop the Arabs from continuing to build."