Adalah, Bimkom, the RCUV and Arab Bedouin Living in the Naqab File Objection to Plans for Israeli Army "Intelligence City"

District Committee for Planning and Building, Objection to the Negev Military Intelligence Complex Plan, No. דר/31/מבט/102

(Beer el-Sabe, Israel) On 19 March 2012, six residents of unrecognized Arab Bedouin villages in the northern Naqab (Negev) filed an official objection (Hebrew) with the Southern District Planning and Building Committee in Beer el-Sabe (Beer Sheva) to government plans to build "Intelligence City". The Israeli army plans to consolidate several military bases located in the central region of Israel, east of Beer el-Sabe in the south, where the unrecognized Arab Bedouin villages lie. The objectors argued that residents of villages included inside the area slated for "Intelligence City" have filed land ownership claims in the 1970s, but the State has ignored their applications. The objection was filed by Adalah, Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, the Regional Council of the Unrecognized Villages (RCUV) on behalf of the residents; it was drafted by Planner Cesar Yehudkin of Bimkom and Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara.

Intelligence City is planned to be composed of 5,000 dunams of land and to lie between the Arab Bedouin towns Laqiyya and Umm Batin. It will have six-story buildings covering an area of more than 600,000 square meters. The area designated for the development is surrounded by several unrecognized Arab Bedouin villages, populated by more than 9,000 people. Around 2,000 Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel live inside the area where the military complex is to be built. Some of their villages have been in existence since before Israel's establishment, while others were created by order of the military government in the 1950s for Arab Bedouin moved from their ancestral land to the Siyag region of the Naqab. Much of the rest of the area inside Intelligence City is used by the Arab Bedouin for farming and grazing, drinking water collection and irrigation, and even a cemetery.

Despite the land ownership claims submitted Arab Bedouin residents, the objection emphasizes that the plan for Intelligence City notes that the area is "state land". Further, past governmental plans, including the Beer Sheva Metropolitan Plan and the Goldberg Committee recommendations, referred to these villages, and sometimes even suggested granting them recognition. Some land ownership claims are still pending. Village residents also have pending objections and suggestions filed to various planning committees. Approval of the plan for Intelligence City renders the procedure of objections meaningless, contrary to principle of the rule of law and to planning and building laws in Israel.

The objectors added that the stated goal of the plan is to transfer military intelligence bases from a crowded area in the center of the country to a populated region in the south that will become not less crowded in a short time. This plan disregards vacant, uninhabited land that the Israeli army controls and could build on without displacing Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel.The objectors concluded that approving the plan will gravely damage the constitutional land ownership rights of the Arab Bedouin residents of the region, and that demolished and evacuating the village contradicts Israel's Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.

See: Jerusalem Post, "Negev Beduin file objection to IDF complex"

The objection