Court rejects motion to cancel home demolition in unrecognized Bedouin village

In presence of dozens of villagers, the Magistrates’ Court in Kiryat Gat rejected Adalah’s motion to cancel the 33 home demolition orders in the unrecognized Arab Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev (Naqab). The decision will pave the way for the establishment of the Jewish town of “Hiran” on the same land. The Court suspended the application of the decision for one year to allow the residents, Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel, to negotiate alternative housing solutions with state authorities. Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara represents the residents and had requested that the home demolition orders be cancelled in 2007. The state obtained the orders from the court ex parte, outside of the presence of the owners; the orders have been frozen since that time.

Following the decision, Attorney Bishara noted that the Court had completely supported the government’s position as well as the stated intention to evacuate the area for the exclusive resettlement of Jewish citizens of the state.

According to Attorney Bishara, “The judge ignored the history of the people of Umm al-Hiran who were uprooted from their ancestral lands and displaced to the land of Umm al-Hiran by military order in 1956. The Court’s decision is contrary to the villagers’ constitutional rights to dignity, equality and adequate housing, and we will appeal the decision to the District Court within 45 days.”

The Court’s decision coincided with a mass demonstration against the Prawer Plan held in front of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem. The Prawer Plan, which was approved by the government in September 2011, seeks to forcibly displace around 40,000 Arab Bedouin from their homes in the unrecognized villages. The protest, together with a general strike, was organized by the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel.

The villagers of Atir-Umm al-Hiran have a history of expulsion and displacement. Prior to 1948, the villagers lived in Khirbet Zubaleh, located in Wadi Zubaleh, which is now part of Kibbutz Shuval. After 1948, the Israeli Military Governor in the Naqab ordered the residents to leave their village and their homes and move to Lagiyya. In 1956, they were again displaced to Wadi Atory, where they have remained until today. The villagers were then given 7,000 dunams of land to live on and cultivate. The residents built permanent homes in the region, and made great efforts to create a sense of community that had been disrupted with each forced displacement. In 2003, through evacuation lawsuits and ex parte demolition orders, the State of Israel again attempted to forcibly displace the nearly 1,000 residents of the villages. The State’s public intention is to demolish and evacuate the villages, and to subsequently establish the Jewish town of “Hiran” on the same land.


Read – Adalah’s Report on Umm al-Hiran “Nomads Against Their Will”

See – A short film about the village