Israeli Court Orders Eviction of Bedouin Village for New Predominantly Jewish Neighborhood
PALESTINE - ISRAEL, 7 Aug 2023
The judge rejected the claim of racial segregation claiming each individual has the right to purchase property in the new neighborhood, but it’s irrelevant for an impoverished community whose members intend on living together.
31 Jul 2023 – An Israeli court has ordered the evacuation of some 550 residents of an unrecognized Bedouin village in southern Israel, to build a new neighborhood for the city of Dimona.
The Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court accepted the Israel Land Authority’s claims earlier this week, requiring the residents of the unrecognized Bedouin village of Ras Jrabah to evacuate by March 2024.
Basing his ruling on aerial photos and other evidence, Judge Menachem Shahak rejected the villagers’ claims that they have been living in the area since the British Mandatory Palestine. Shahak claimed the evidence presented in court shows that the area was first inhabited only during the 1970s.
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He also ordered the villagers
He also ordered the villagers to pay 117,000 shekels in legal charges. Their lawyers, all from the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said they would appeal to the district court.
The Israel Land Authority (ILA) first tried to evacuate the village 30 years ago. The current suit was filed again by the ILA due to the Dimona municipality’s intention to build a new neighborhood where the village now stands, which is expected to contain about 11,000 housing units on around 2,471 acres of land, with half the area intended to be built.
The villagers asked to be integrated into the new neighborhood in a rural complex and adapted to their lifestyle. The judge rejected the request on the grounds that he cannot intervene because only the Bedouin Authority is authorized to offer them solutions.
The judge also rejected the residents’ claims of racial segregation and said that each of the evacuees has the right to purchase land and housing units in the new neighborhood. However, the plan was irrelevant for a community whose members do not have the financial opportunity to do so and intend on living together.
The Bedouin Settlement Authority has offered compensation to the villagers for their eviction with 5,360 square foot lots in the towns of Qasr al-Sir, but this was rejected because these lands are amid an ownership dispute. The authority also proposed to transfer them to the Negev town of Arara, but this was also denied because it could damage the social fabric of the village.
“They’ll move us to a place we’re not used to and then the problems will start,” said Ras Jrabah resident Ibrahim Al Hawashleh last year to Haaretz. “Many Bedouin who’ve moved to other Bedouin cities have deteriorated into crime.”
“There’s no crime, violence or drugs here,” Ibrahim added. “We won’t let them change our lives and our culture. We’ll stay and raise animals and earn our living from animals. That’s how we were raised. We’re Bedouin and the sons of Bedouin.”
Freij Al Hawashleh, one of the elders of Ras Jrabah, also told Haaretz last year that “All our lives we’ve helped people from Dimona and have had a good relationship. We supplied them with water from the well, goat’s milk, they bought sugar and tea from us and got any help they wanted. What happened now that they want to house people at our expense?”
“They want to take our land and humiliate us and they expect us to be silent, but we’ll stay here and we’ll die here,” he added.
The Adalah Center said in response that the ruling is “an illustration of how Israel’s land regime and the legal proceedings establishing it, create a methodical system of racial segregation that amounts to the crime of apartheid according to international law.”
The center further stated that, as in the cases of other Bedouin villages that were displaced, such as Umm al-Hiran in the Negev, “the verdict clearly shows that the rights protected by Israel’s Basic Laws are not sufficient to defend the constitutional rights of Palestinians, or to heal the racist principles at the basis of Israel’s settlement policy.”
The illegal and immoral eviction of a Bedouin village to make way for a Jewish neighborhood is a prime example of ethnic cleansing given a legal framework via an apartheid system based on institutional discrimination against non-Jewish populations. This is simply Jewish supremacy dressed up as ‘democracy’ but it is Democracy-For-Jews-Only. This should be viewed in the light of tens of thousands of (Jewish) Israeli protestors railing against the judicial overhaul of a Supreme Court and court system which enforces the rule of Israeli apartheid. Note that there are no Palestinians or Bedouin among the thousands of Israeli protestors. One can understand why. Democracy for Jews only is no democracy at all. If Israel’s apartheid system constitutes ‘democracy,’ then it can be stated that the South African apartheid system was also a ‘democracy’ – for White Afrikaners only! We know that was not the case.
The Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU) is a human rights organization that explicitly recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to national existence and to live in security. We condemn all violations of human rights. PAJU was co-founded in Montreal by Bruce Katz, a Jewish Canadian and Rezeq Faraj, a Palestinian Canadian who have been friends for more than 25 years. Our group is comprised of Jews, Palestinians and other Canadians of good conscience who work together to promote peace in the Middle East and to educate the public on the Palestinian question.
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