Right-wing group hangs Palestinian flags on West Bank roads, spooking settlers

Regavim stunt prompts flurry of complaints; organization’s co-founder Bezalel Smotrich, now the minister of transportation, initially condemns Palestinian ‘audacity’

Right-wing activists hang Palestinian flags along a West Bank highway on July 7, 2019 (Courtesy of Regavim)
Right-wing activists hang Palestinian flags along a West Bank highway on July 7, 2019 (Courtesy of Regavim)

A right-wing organization hung Palestinian flags along highways in the West Bank overnight Saturday in a self-styled “secret campaign,” prompting a flurry of complaints by Jewish residents to police.

The goal of the stunt, the Regavim organization said in a statement on Sunday morning, was to alert Israelis that a “terror state was around the corner.”

Regavim, which monitors Palestinian construction in the West Bank, said the move was designed to “wake up” the local Jewish population, “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,” referring to a proposal by then-Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad.

“We understand the harsh reactions of the residents of  Judea and Samaria who saw the flags this morning, but we also understand that there is a terrorist state taking shape right around the corner,” said Regavim director Meir Deutsch, using the biblical name for the West Bank.

“The population of Judea and Samaria has been lulled into a dangerous slumber,” he said. “The flags that we put up this morning won’t change the future of Judea and Samaria but the tens of thousands of structures that were built over the past decade and the thousands of dunams that the PA has taken over with the assistance of European countries will determine the future of Area C.”

Area C, which comprises about 60 percent of the West Bank’s territory, is where most of the Jewish settlers live. According to the Oslo Accords, Israel has full military and administrative control over Area C.

The Palestinian flags were reported to the Israeli authorities by commuters early on Sunday.

Transportation Minister and Head of the National Union party Betzalel Smotrich speaks during a conference Ariel University in the West Bank on June 20, 2019. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who co-founded Regavim in 2006, initially appeared to condemn the flags on the West Bank roads, most of which are used by both Israeli and Palestinian motorists.

“Those who allow the Arabs in Judea and Samaria to be unruly and take control over Area C with illegal construction and development to a frightening degree should not be surprised when their audacity soars and they feel that the roads, too, belong to them,” he tweeted, referring to the Palestinians. “In the last coalition negotiations, Netanyahu refused our demand to prevent this takeover. This time we won’t concede.”

After the flag-flyers identified themselves, however, Smotrich called the Regavim campaign “important and even critical.”

“The time has come for all of us to wake up and thwart the Arab takeover of our homeland,” added Smotrich, who belongs to the Union of Right Wing Parties. “These flags are not dangerous, but the thousands of houses, roads, and trees that the Arabs are building, and paving, and planting under our noses are! The responsibility falls on the shoulders of one man — Netanyahu.”

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed