Aerial view of the Beit Fajjar Quarry (Photo: @RegavimEng - Twitter)

The District Court in Jerusalem heard last Thursday the petition from the Regavim movement against the Beit Fajjar quarry, the largest illegal quarry in the country located in the eastern Gush Etzion block and operated by Palestinian businessmen. At the hearing, the state rejected the claims that there is ongoing damage to archeology and claimed that the situation at the quarry is static and has not had a significant expansion since 2005. 

Despite the court’s firm position, the Regavim movement presented findings that it claims prove the opposite, in light of this the Judge wondered why the state is not updated and is not in the field and demanded that up-to-date evaluations be carried out and answer to the courts within 60 days.

The Beit Fajjar quarry is located in the east of Gush Etzion in area C according to the Oslo Accords and spreads over a huge area of ​​about 1,600 acres. In two petitions submitted by the Regavim movement in the last decade against the quarry, the state refused to regulate it and prevent its expansion, despite valuable archaeological sites being harmed by the quarry, and therefore the petitions were rejected.

A grandiose plan promoted by the Israeli Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria to ignore the expansion of illegal Palestinian quarries caused all proper enforcement to freeze in place, despite the Knesset’s Security Committee refusing to give the quarries any legitimacy.

In recent months, the organization "Shomrim Al Hanetzach" has claimed that the works seriously damaged the ancient water canals and destroyed an entire section of it, in addition to evidence from the Gush Etzion council inspectors and the field coordinator in Regavim proves that the activity at the quarry is continuing and expanding.

During the hearing, the judge granted Regavim's request and ordered the completion of tests in the field, including aerial photographs and an archeology affidavit or any other relevant factor, within 60 days.

Head of the Gush Etzion Council and Chairman of the Yesha Council Shlomo Naaman said: “We have been warning for a long time that the State of Israel is losing its grip on the uninhabited areas. The Arabs are damaging natural assets all over and we are losing land in a planned war declared by the Palestinian Authority. The time has come for the State of Israel to realize that this is its struggle and a struggle for the future of all of us. These are pirated quarries, unsupervised garbage incinerators, causing damage to nature reserves, and more. The state authorities must come to their senses."

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