Court Orders Removal of Arab-Bedouin Negev Village to Build Dimona’s Neighborhood

A court in Beer-Sheva has given past week Arab-Bedouin families in the Negev until March 2024 to destroy their homes and leave their village to make way for the expansion of a nearby Dimona city. 

The decision will affect 500 residents from the Ras Jrabah village, who have been left in a state of shock after the decision by the Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court on Monday. Residents of the village, which predates the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, say the news fell on them like a “thunderbolt” and was difficult to process.

A view of the Ras Jravah village and the city of Dimona (Photo: Waleed Aloubra)

The Ras Jrabah case began in 2019 when the Israel Land Authority (ILA) filed 10 eviction lawsuits against 127 residents of the village and their families. The government body argued that the presence of Ras Jrabah – which is unrecognized as an official village by the state – hindered the expansion of Dimona, who was built on land owned by the Arab-bedouin  tribe of al-Hawashleh, which also owns land in the adjacent Ras Jrabah village.

Adalah, the Haifa-based legal centre for Arab minority rights, which is representing the Palestinian residents, said they will appeal against the decision. It argued that the court “disregarded” the residents’ arguments in its judgment. “Since the Nakba, the state of Israel has employed a range of tools and policies to forcibly displace the Bedouin residents in the Naqab,” Adalah said in a statement.

“Their livelihood has been confined to restricted areas and segregated townships, and they have been subjected to harsh living conditions, with no regard for their basic needs and way of life,” Adalah noted, adding, “The forced displacement of Ras Jrabah’s residents to expand the Jewish city of Dimona, which was built on the residents’ lands, serves as clear evidence that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid against its Palestinian citizens.” According to Adalah, Ras Jrabah residents suggested that their village be integrated into the newly planned part of Dimona, a request that was turned down. The village is one of around 30 unrecognized Palestinian villages in the Negev region of Israel’s southern territory.

“The goal of the Israeli government is to take control over Arab land in the Naqab and to expel entire communities from their land,” Hadash MK Youssef Atawneh, told Middle East Eye. “This has been ongoing since 1948 and some families have been displaced twice,” he added.

The Hadash MK said he is collaborating with a Negev-based committee to organize a large-scale protest over the expulsions and projects taking place. “People are very angry over the racism that is taking place,” he stated. “But despite the difficult circumstances, fines and displacements, people are remaining steadfast and strong,” he continued, predicting that the recent court decision will likely inflame tensions in the Negev.