With the support of the Arab-Bedouin citizens of Umm al-Hiran, and partners in Israel and abroad, on Sunday, May 17, the NGO Adalah launched a campaign to raise public awareness of the village’s struggle and bring about the scrapping of the government’s plans to evict its residents and entirely demolish their community. As part of the campaign, Adalah has invited all persons “to explore and share our resources and information about Umm al-Hiran; engage in social media with the hashtag #Save_UmAlHiran; contact Adalah for tours and visits to the village; make a monetary donation to the campaign; and mobilize public calls and actions to pressure the Israeli government to end its discriminatory plan.”
Two weeks ago, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition signed by roughly 1,000 residents of Umm al-Hiran against their eviction from their homes and the demolition of their village. But according to Al–Ittihad, the Arabic-language daily newspaper of the Communist Party of Israel, participants at Sunday’s meeting, among whom were Knesset members from the Joint List, representatives of the unrecognized villages, and other public figures, agreed unanimously that the demolition of Umm al-Hiran’s would constitute a red line which must not be crossed. In its decision, the Supreme Court recognized that the residents of Umm al-Hiran were not illegal trespassers – as was initially claimed by the state – but rather were moved there in 1956 by an Israeli military order after having been uprooted from their original village of Khirbet Zubaleh. Nevertheless, the Court ruled that, because the villagers were living on “state land,” the state had the right to reclaim that land and do with it as it pleased. The Supreme Court did not bother to raise the obvious question why a new Jewish town had to be built on the exact location of an existing Arab village, when there are vast empty lands in the immediate vicinity. The Court also entirely ignored the Bedouin residents’ political, social, and historical roots to the land.
The committee established following Adalah’s initiative has decided to wage a public, legal battle against the demolition. Among the steps it plans to enact are the setting up of a protest tent in the village, organizing a large demonstration in Be’er Sheva, blocking roads, conducting a hunger strike by Knesset members, and possibly asking the Supreme Court to reconsider the case.
“The prevailing feeling is that our backs are already to the wall,” said Joint List chairman MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash). “We can’t allow such a decision to be implemented. We’re ready to fight with all the means at our disposal; we can’t remain silent in the face of the injustice that is about to occur. A person can’t stand aside and watch Arab residents being uprooted from their homes in order to build a new community for Jews only.” According to MK Dov Khenin (Hadash – Joint List), “The Arab public sees this act as a declaration of war against it, one which mandates a chain reaction of resistance in Israel and abroad to prevent the community’s eviction.”
- Arab-Bedouin call on court to block destruction of their Negev village
- Cabinet approves eviction of Arab-Bedouin citizens
- Joint List to Protest Supreme Court Decision to Raze Unrecognized Bedouin Village
- Adalah: #Save_UmAlHiran