In the fall of 1998, a handful of Israeli citizens invaded Hilltop 799, adjacent to the villages Turmusaya, Al Mughayer, Qaryut, and Jalud and founded the outpost that would later become Adei-Ad. Despite being built illegally and without government authorization, Israeli authorities and government ministries sponsored the establishment of the outpost in various ways. The report The Road to Dispossession, the first of its kind, presents Adei-Ad as a case study that illustrates the connection between the failure of the authorities responsible for law enforcement and the protection of Palestinians and their property, and the dispossession of Palestinians from their land. This is done by drawing a continuum that begins with the absence of effective law enforcement on Israeli civilians – both on the criminal and the administrative levels – and ends with the inability of the Palestinian landowners to work their land and make a living.
Since its establishment, the outpost has been a hotbed for violence against Palestinians who live in the nearby villages. Since the first caravan was brought onto the hilltop, there have been dozens of criminal and administrative offenses in and around the outpost. These offenses are not addressed by the agencies responsible for law enforcement, which include the IDF, responsible via the Civil Administration for enforcement against the administrative offenses that include illegal construction and invasions of agricultural land; and the Samaria and Judea (SJ) District Police, responsible for handling criminal offenses including violence, property offenses and land seizure. The police is obligated to prevent crimes, locate offenders and complete investigations so that they lead to serving indictments against suspects.
Even though the outpost is an illegal point of settlement, and construction and presence within it are violations of the law, the State of Israel nonetheless ensures their safety through the army. The protection provided by the IDF includes guarding the outpost’s borders and creating a buffer zone designed to thwart confrontations between its residents and the Palestinians. The founding of Adei-Ad led the IDF to define extensive areas as no entry zones for Palestinians, and to restrict Palestinians’ access to other agricultural areas by requiring IDF permission and advance coordination. Other areas have become inaccessible to Palestinians following incidents of violence, harassment and threats by Israeli civilians who have intimidated the Palestinian farmers. Consequently many farmers are unable to cultivate their land or can do so only partially and discontinuously.
Adei Ad is a typical example of the failure of law enforcement on Israeli civilians in the West Bank. Instead of taking the necessary steps to stop the criminal activity while enforcing all of the measures provided by the law, the State authorities refrain from using all the tools at their disposal and fail to provide Palestinian residents with adequate protection for their person and property.
Documents provided by the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division after the report was drafted:
After completing the report and just prior to its publication, the Settlement Division provided Yesh Din with documents we did not have (and did not know existed) at the time of writing, because the Settlement Division refused to comply with our request to disclose these documents at the time of writing. Had the Settlement Division complied in a timely manner, we could have addressed these documents in the report itself. Instead, these documents were provided only following a legal procedure we initiated, a petition under the Freedom of Information Act. These documents do not change the general picture that emerges from the report as to the legal validity of the allocation of land in the area of the outpost of Adei Ad. Following is a list of the central documents provided by the Settlement Division, and our responses in short:
1. Planning authorization agreement between the Director of Abandoned and Government Property in Judea and Samaria and the World Zionist Organization – the Settlement Division – Yesh Din already had a copy of the planning authorization agreement between the Director and the Division, provided following our request from the Director under the Freedom of Information Act. The agreement received from the Settlement Division is not identical to the one we received from the Director previously. Although it appears to be an authorization agreement to plan the same area, we now have two agreements without being able to determine which one of them is binding, if either. The agreements differ from each other in a number of details, the most important of which are the following:
The period of authorization for planning: In the agreement received from the Director, the period of authorization for planning is seven years, from January 13, 1998 until January 12, 2005. However, in the agreement received from the Settlement Division the period of authorization for planning is two years, from January 13, 1998 until January 12, 2000.
The date the agreement was drawn up and signed: Whereas the agreement received from the Director was drawn up and signed on November 24, 2002, which is to say retroactively – four years after the beginning of the agreement period and construction of the outpost – the agreement received from the Settlement sDivision was drawn up and signed on January 26, 1998.
2. A letter from the Director of Abandoned and Government Property to the Settlement Division regarding renewal of planning authorizations, November 18, 2012 – The Settlement Division claims this letter extends the validity of the planning authorization by 49 years. The letter is dated November 18, 2012, exactly one month after Yesh Din sent the Settlement Division a letter requesting its response to key points in the report about the Division. Even if the letter does constitute an extension of the planning authorization period, it is still an extension of an agreement that had not been valid for years (seven years at the very least and 10 years at most – depending on the respective planning authorization agreements). It is also a planning authorization for agricultural purposes only and not for settlement. The extension of the planning authorization for the long period of 49 years also appears irregular.
3. A copy of the Director of Abandoned and Government Property’s agreement to the Settlement Division’s request to change the purpose of authorization in the area called “Shilo East – Katzif” for the purpose of agricultural cultivation, February 29, 2000
4. Summary of the Settlement Division’s response to Adv. Talia Sasson’s opinion