Six residents of an unrecognized Arab-Bedouin village near the southern city of Be’er Sheva will have to pay the state to cover the costs of demolishing their homes, an Israeli court ruled last week. The village, which has been demolished over 100 times since 2010, must pay 262,000 shekels (over $72,000) for the demolition costs and an additional 100,000 shekels for the expenses of the state’s lawyer.
Originally, the state sued 34 Arab-Bedouin for 1.7 million shekels for eight instances in which they rebuilt al-Araqib in 2010 leading to the state paying for demolishing it.
“There’s no real reason to claim payment for a unit that is budgeted annually by the state,” said Haya Noah, director of the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality. “This is another of the tricks used by the state to wear down and break up worthy civic struggles, like the struggle for the right to a respectable place to live. Instead of pushing the residents to the wall, the state must provide shelter for the villagers and stop the campaign of demolitions and harassment.”
Joint List chairman lawmaker Ayman Odeh (Hadash) said, “The court’s ruling brings the state’s cruelty toward Arab citizens of the Negev to new heights. The state, which is trying to plant trees in an effort to uproot people from their land, refuses to recognize the villages, most of which exist where they are from before the state’s founding. Now it is also choosing to financially ruin anyone who dares to raise his head and fight the decrees by civil and democratic means.”
In July 2012, during a hearing held in the Magistrate Court of Beer-Sheva the police prosecution announced the withdrawal of the indictment against Attorney Odeh, Secretary of Hadash (Democratic Front for Peace and Equality – Communist Party of Israel) charging him with “preventing a police officer from fulfilling his duty,” during the demolition of the village of Al-Araqib in February 2011. This indictment was one of three separate indictments presented against Odeh on various charges relating to protesting demolitions of houses in the Negev.
Joint List MK Yosef Jabareen said the decision was “harsh and outrageous,” noting the effect is that the state has “both destroyed the houses of the residents and obligated them in the costs of that destruction.” He said that international conventions required recognizing the Arab-Bedouin rights to al-Arakib and that the government is carrying out a policy to move Bedouin villages to make room for Jewish villages.
In the last week a meeting with dozens of activists and residents was held in Al-Araqib to commemorate the 7th anniversary of the first village demolition in the summer of 2010. Among the participants were members of Hadash and MK Odeh.
Related: Posts on al-Araqib