Thousands of residents of Judea and Samaria on their morning commute today (Sunday) were shocked to find major intersections flying Palestinian Authority flags. Swithchboards of the local authorities’ situation rooms were flooded with hundreds of calls, and social media were awash with photos and video clips filmed in the early morning hours. Enraged motorists were convinced that the Palestinian Authority had hung the flags to make a statement – as they have in the past in certain key locations, such as along Route 1 near Khan al Ahmar.
This morning, hundreds of Palestinian Authority flags were spotted by motorists along the main traffic arteries of Judea and Samaria (Yehuda and Shomron), part of a secret overnight campaign that involved numerous work crews and special trucks equipped with hydraulic lifts to enable the crews to hang the flags quickly, up high and in plain sight. Am ng the junctions where PA flags were spotted: Along Route 60, on the highway between Gush Etzion and Har Hevron, between Neveh Daniel and Elazar; the “sheep junction,” and Meitarim. Along Route 5 in the Shomron: Gitai-Avisar Junction, Oranit, Bruchin, and the Peduel Junction; iIn Binyamin, Neveh Tzuf, the Psaagot Junction, Ofra, Shiloh and elsewhere.
Only now, hours after the commotion began, it has become clear that the flags were hung by none other than the Regavim Movement, as part of larger campaign to shock, alert, and illustrate what will happen if illegal Arab construction is allowed to continue unhindered and a de facto Palestinian state is established as per the Fayyad Plan of 2009.
The flag stunt, which was carried out under cover of the pre-dawn darkness between Saturday night and Sunday morning rush hour, is part of Regavim’s recent campaign, “A Terrorist State – Right Around the Corner.” Last week, Regavim released data culled from a month’s-long project analyzing aerial photography of Judea and Samaria over the past decade, and the picture that emerges is alarming: More than 28,000 new illegal structures were built in the past decade, and the Arab seizure of land in Area C, the area of Judea and Samaria under full Israeli jurisdiction, has grown exponentially - to some 78,626 dunams. In comparison, the area covered by Israeli settlements is a mere 56,700 dunams. Regavim’s findings were further supported by a very blunt and worrying article by Kobi Eliraz, the outgoing Assistant for Judea and Samaria Affairs to the Minister of Defense, in which he decried the lack of enforcement and the erosion of Israeli sovereignty on the ground, which are enabling the unilateral creation of a de facto Palestinian state in Israel’s heartland.
Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim, took responsibility for this morning’s flag stunt and the resultant media storm. “We understand the harsh reactions of the residents of Yehuda and Shomron who saw the flags this morning, but we also understand that there is a terrorist state taking shape right around the corner. Residents of Yehuda and Shomron have been lulled into a dangerous slumber.”
“The flags we put up this morning will not determine the future of Yehuda and Shomron, but tens of thousands of illegal structures built in the past decade, and tens of thousands of dunams that have been seized by the Palestinian Authority with the support of European countries, most certainly will. The time has come for the government to take action and to stop the Fayyad Plan – not with words but with real on-the-ground deeds. It’s not too late, but time is running out.”