The Palestinian Authority has illegally built a new school in the site of the Hamam al Maliakh hot springs, located in the heart of the Jordan Valley’s Bazak Nature Reserve, the Regavim movement reported.
The site is in Area C, which is under full Israeli jurisdiction, as per the Oslo Accords.
Some years ago, an Arab family took over the site, turning the historic structure into a private residence and making structural changes, as if it were owned by them.
Now, a new school has been built at the site in recent weeks, including a sign announcing that the construction was funded by the European Union and a group of European countries, all of which have been playing an increasingly significant role in the PA’s quiet illegal takeover of Area C.
The new school is adorned with colorful wall murals and covered with tarpaulin sheets that are meant to hide the illegal structure from the IDF Civil Administration inspectors.
Regavim, which is at the forefront of combating the PA’s illegal construction, has turned to the Civil Administration for answers on their lack of action on the issue.
Eitan Melet, Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Yehudah and Shomron, explained that the PA “is playing hide and seek with the Civil Administration. The PA builds ‘Confrontation Schools’ – illegal schools in Area C – for the purpose of anchoring a network of outposts in Area C.”
“The Palestinians come up with new, inventive ways of camouflaging their activities, and the Civil Administration, either intentionally or unintentionally, continues to fall into the very effective trap that the PA is using over and over again. Once these illegal schools are completed, they create a win-win public relations headache, which the Civil Administration hasn’t learned to contend with. The PA appears to be the only team on the field,” he said.
This new school maybe be part of the PA’s grand plan to establish a de facto state.
In 2009 then-prime minister of the PA Salaam Fayyad laid out the Plan for the Creation of the State of Palestine, a methodical program for seizing control of territory in Area C to form a broad and viable basis for a Palestinian state, specifically in the areas under Israeli control.
Fayyad’s plan essentially bypasses all negotiations or compromises with Israel and creates facts on the ground.
According to data collected by the Regavim movement, which combats illegal Arab construction, in 2009 the number of illegal Arab structures in Area C stood at 29,784, while in 2018 the number surged to 58,435.
The far more worrying statistic is the area covered by illegal Arab construction: In 2009 some 44,538 dunams of land in Area C were being occupied illegally by Arab construction. In 2018, over 78,626 dunams have been taken over.
The comparison of these figures with the Israeli communities in Area C is instructive: Jewish communities currently cover some 2.5% of Area C. In the past decade, Jewish construction in Area C grew by less than 10,000 dunams, covering 47,327 dunams in 2008 and growing to an area of 56,700 dunams in 2018.