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Israeli Court Orders Eviction of Bedouin Village for New Predominantly Jewish Neighborhood

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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.

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.”

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Article source: Haaretz | Nati Yefet | Jul 28, 2023

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

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