New Report Reveals: Hundreds of Bedouin Houses Demolished this Year in the Negev

On Wednesday, December 10, International Human Rights Day, the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality (NCF) published its annual House Demolition Policy report. The report makes evident that Israel’s house demolition policy, primarily directed against the Bedouin community in the Negev, continued unabated during the past year and included 859 Arab Bedouin-owned structures.

A demolished home in the unrecognized Arab-Bedouin village of Wadi Al-Na'am.

A demolished home in the unrecognized Arab-Bedouin village of Wadi Al-Na’am. (Photo: NCF)

The report explains the policy and, using data released by the Ministry of Interior, reveals both its scope and the various authorities involved in its enforcement. Israel’s Ministry of Interior acknowledges that, during the past twelve months, a total of 859 structures were demolished in the Southern District, most of them within Bedouin communities. Over 78% of the structures were demolished by the owners themselves, under duress from the authorities, representing a dramatic increase from previous years. In addition, 54% of all demolitions took place within governmental planned towns and villages that were recognized by the state, while only 46% were executed in unrecognized villages. This last fact calls into question the state’s actual intentions when establishing planned towns and recognized villages, which are often used as an anchor to justify the government’s demolition policy in unrecognized villages.

Based on this evidence, the NCF has come to the conclusion that the governmental coordination directorate which oversees implementation of the policy deliberately uses the threat of house demolition to pressurize Bedouin families into moving from unrecognized villages into planned towns. The directorate issues demolition orders, reopens dormant cases, and targets particular structures to press Bedouin families into conducting land negotiations with the state. As a result, house demolitions serve as an instrument in the state’s struggle to appropriate Bedouin land.

No less cynical is the picture revealed by the steep increase in house demolitions by their owners. While the representatives of law enforcement authorities regularly threaten owners that they will bear the cost of demolitions executed by the state, the report reveals that so far only three such claims have been made by the Israeli Lands Authority, with none yet resolved in the courts. Therefore, while the threat is actually an idle one, it achieves the desired results, from the state’s perspective.

In the final analysis, due to its policy, the State of Israel continues to deny the Bedouin their right to an adequate standard of living, a basic human right guaranteed under a variety of international conventions.

The full report (English) downloaded as a PDF file:

The House Demolition Policy in the Negev-Naqab — International Human Rights Day 2014