- In October, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority
Rights in Israel, together with nine other human rights organizations,
addressed a position paper on "The unconstitutionality of the state's
policy of demolishing Arab Bedouin unrecognized villages in the Negev"
to three Israeli officials:
- -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
- -- Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, and
- -- Minister of Justice Yaakov Neeman.
- Citing the illegality of home demolitions, in this case
of Arab Israeli citizens, they urged halting them immediately and finding
a durable solution for unrecognized village residents. In Salim Abu- Medeghem
v. The Israel Land Administration (April 14, 2007), Israel's High Court
proposed replacing demolitions with solutions based on dialogue, Justice
- "....the difficult reality the Bedouin population
faces in the State of Israel requires a systemic, complete and comprehensive
solution, and the sooner the better...The time has come to formulate and
implement a truly comprehensive solution to this problem."
- An earlier article addressed this issue, accessed through
the following link:
- It explained that Israeli Arabs live mainly in all-Arab
towns and villages in three heartlands - the Galilee in the north; what's
called the "Little Triangle" in the center along the Israeli
side of the Green Line; and the Negev in the south.
- Up to 150,000 Bedouin Arabs, Israeli citizens, live in
so-called "unrecognized villages," mainly in the Galilee and
Negev. They're unrecognized because their residents are considered internal
refugees, forced from their homes during Israel's War of Independence and
prevented from returning. Thereafter, they've been relentlessly mistreated,
including by repressive zoning restrictions, prohibiting construction,
agriculture, and other legal rights.
- They're also been denied essential services, including
water, electricity, roads, transport, sanitation, education, healthcare,
postal and telephone service, refuse removal and more because under Israel's
Planning and Construction Law they're illegal. More recently, stepped up
efforts to demolish their homes and villages are dispossessing them, making
way for Jewish development, much like what's ongoing throughout the West
Bank and East Jerusalem.
- Adalah and the other human rights organizations want
it stopped. Negev Bedouins number around 80,000. After earlier concentrating
them in the desert's eastern portion, a policy of reducing their living
space began in the 1990s. Today, Israel wants to remove as many as possible,
disregarding their basic rights.
- Since 1948, Israeli master plans completely ignored the
unrecognized villages, denying their residents rights afforded Jews. The
ongoing injustice continues relentlessly, today pursuing a policy of destroying
entire villages, forcible displacements then following.
- Examples include Al-Araqib. On July 27, 2010, at 4:30AM,
the whole village was razed, its 45 homes demolished, illegal force used
against men, women and children. Without warning, police stormed the village,
wearing face masks and no IDs. Income Tax Authority representatives came
with them, lawlessly seizing assets, purportedly to cover unverified debts.
- The episode was appalling, leaving residents traumatized,
their homes razed in front of their eyes, their possessions seized, and
no alternative housing provided. After rebuilding four times, authorities
again destroyed them.
- Umm al-Hieran - Atir is home to about 1,100 Bedouins,
evacuation and expulsion orders pending against them on grounds of trespassing.
As a result, many village homes got demolition orders. Residents have lived
there since 1956 after members of the Abu al-Qi'an tribe were expelled
from Wadi Zuballa (today part of the Kibbutz Shoval). However, according
to various master plans, part of their village is earmarked for a Jewish
town to be called Hiran.
- Al-Sura is another example, situated on Al-Nasasra tribe
land, predating Israel's creation. All village houses got demolition orders,
their land to be stolen for industrial development excluding them.
- In August 2010, demolitions occurred in Jarabe, Abda,
Abu al-Sulab, Al-Shihabi (Abu Tulul) and Baqurnub. There and in other villages,
the practice has been longstanding. However, 2010 saw a dramatic rise,
by early October destroying over 200 homes, properties and other possessions
confiscated. Moreover, hundreds of olive trees were uprooted and agricultural
- More information can be found at the Negev Coexistence
Forum's web site, accessed through the following link:
- Israel's Lawless Disregard for Its Arab Minority
- Home demolitions violate their legal rights to dignity,
housing, health and life, mistreatment Israel Jews don't face. Loss of
their homes also violates a Supreme Court ruling that the right to housing
is part of their minimal subsistence. It's therefore part of their legal
right to dignity.
- In Preminger v. Mor (1997), Justice Strasberg-Cohen held
- "human dignity is a fundamental constitutional value
in our society. No one would dispute that it is necessary to safeguard
a person's dignity even if he has failed or fallen into debt, and that
he should not be left without a roof over his head."
- In Ajouri v. Commander of IDF Forces in the West Bank
(2002), the Court held that "A person's home is not only a roof over
his head, but also a means for the physical and social location of the
person, of his private life and social relations."
- Moreover, since Bedouin life is especially harsh, authorities
have an added responsibility to ensure shelter. In Commitment to Peace
and Social Justice NGO v. The Minister of Finance (2005), the Court ruled
that dignity included the right to minimal living conditions to ensure
protection for human life. As such, the state is duty bound to care for
those with meager means. Retired Chief Justice Barak ruled:
- "The basic laws protect the right to dignity, including
the aspect of material subsistence required for the exercise of (this right).
From this viewpoint, (that entails) the right to conduct his normal life
as a human being without his distress defeating him and bringing him to
a state of intolerable impoverishment."
- International laws also affirm these rights, including
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. ICESCR's
Article 11 defines elements to adequate housing to include:
- -- affordability, so that obtaining it doesn't jeopardize
other essential needs;
- -- a prohibition against discriminatory laws;
- -- the right to privacy;
- -- protection from arbitrary eviction;
- -- accessibility to infrastructure and services, including
health, education, and employment;
- -- the right to choose residency locations; and
- -- to live in culturally adaptable housing.
- Other international laws specify rights for women and
children, and for authorities to assure them. Evicting Bedouin Arabs and
demolishing the homes and villages, based on their nationality and religion,
clearly violates their rights under Israeli and international law. Worse
still, it's being done solely for Jewish development, showing contempt
for Arab citizens, violating basic human rights and freedoms.
- Jewish Hiran will replace Umm al-Hieran. Al-Araqib will
be demolished for Givot Barr. In addition, individual Jewish settlements
are being approved, some in violation of planning policy. For example,
in July 2010, a Negev Development Authority Law amendment passed, recognizing
Negev Jewish settlers, master plans for them to follow. As a result, Bedouin
rights will be trashed, fundamental laws violated, even though as Dr. Sandy
- Negev Bedouins are a recognized indigenous minority,
their historical existence and presence predating Israel's existence. Their
land and property rights are indisputable. Israel's Basic Law affirms them,
requiring authorities to protect them as well as other basic rights.
- Israel's Or Commission, established in October 2000,
recommended that Bedouin villages be recognized and developed, saying:
- "The land conflict has existed since the first days
of the state....The Arab public strongly supports and identifies with the
Bedouin's stance." Though Israeli citizens, their "villages are
not recognized (and) have not been provided with infrastructure and services....The
vast majority of residents of the unrecognized villages were required to
move to a number of central towns that were planned for them....Several
public associations have formed to" protect them." They deserve
equitable conflict resolution.
- In 2007, Israel's Housing and Construction minister appointed
the Goldberg Committee to resolve this issue. On November 11, 2008, the
Committee recommended that all Negev Bedouin villages be recognized. In
addition, Bedouin citizens should be granted land ownership rights.
- On January 18, 2009, authorities then approved Decision
No. 4411, deciding that it "regards the outline proposed by the committee
as a basis for resolving the settlement of the Bedouin in the Negev."
Then, in June 2010, the "Investigator's Recommendations Regarding
the Objections to District Master Plan 23-1404 - A Partial District Master
Plan for the Beersheva Metropolitan Area" was published. It also recommended
- In July 2010, the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) issued
its "Concluding Observations" on Israel's third periodic report,
expressing concern about home demolitions and forced evictions. HRC called
on Israel to respect Bedouin rights to their land and agricultural livelihoods
- The UN CERD Committee, responsible for monitoring the
state's implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Racial Discrimination expressed concern in June 2007 over
Israeli violations, saying Bedouin village and land rights must be recognized.
- In 2005, the UN CEDAW Committee, responsible for monitoring
states' implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women expressed outrage over how
Bedouin women were being treated.
- In 2002, the UN CAT Committee, responsible for monitoring
the state's implementation of the International Convention Against Torture
(CAT), determined that Israel's home demolition and displacement policy
constituted, in some cases, cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, violating
- Adalah attorney Sawsan Zaher asked the above addressed
officials to halt their aggressive policies, replacing them with constructive
dialogue for acceptable solutions. International and Israeli law demand
it. As in the past on all Jewish/Muslim issues, they were unresponsive.
As a result, Israeli lawlessness continues relentlessly, the rule of law
a non-starter, Bedouin Arab citizens victimized like other Israeli Arabs
and Occupied Palestinians, justice for them still denied.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays
at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs
are archived for easy listening.