On Monday, December 22, 2014, a large force of police and Ministry of Interior inspectors arrived at the unrecognized Bedouin village of Saawa in the Negev and demanded that seven houses be demolished immediately. The owners of the condemned houses were threatened that, if they do not tear down the houses on their own right away, the state will bring in its bulldozers to do the job, and the owners will have to pay the cost of the demolitions. This despite the fact the owners of these houses have been conducting negotiations for years with the state and have no other place to dwell. The next day, Tuesday, December 23, the residents of Saawa demolished the seven houses as ordered by the authorities. Since then, they are residing in the homes of neighbors.
Other than not wanting to bear the cost of the demolitions, the residents of Saawa acceded to the state’s demands to tear down their homes to avoid the arrival of bulldozers and a large force of police when their children would be at home. Doing the work themselves, and while their children were at school, also gave them time to remove their personal belongings from the houses to be demolished. Salameh al-Kasasi, one of the residents of Saawa who razed his own home to the ground said: “They forced us to tear down our homes. Who wants to knock down his own home and leave his kids without shelter? This is not a democracy. The state sees our doing the work ourselves as a sign of weakness. But we are not weak. The state has already torn down my house three previous times. We simply didn’t want the kids to see the police and be scared.”
During the 1950s, the residents of the Bedouin village of Saawa were removed from their ancestral lands in the northern Negev to their present location by the Israeli Military Government (1949-1966). In 2000, even though the village had already been at its present site for decades, the then Chief of General Staff of the IDF, Shaul Mofaz, declared the area of Saawa to be Military Zone 526. This led to the issuing of demolition orders for 30 houses in Saawa in 2007. Juridical proceedings, including an appeal by Saawa’s residents to Israel’s Supreme Court, were concluded when that body upheld the decision of the Magistrates Court from 2013 rejecting the request to delay the demolition orders.