Supreme Court refuses request to appeal against demolition orders for all homes in Umm el-Hieran

Villagers have exhausted all legal possibilities available to cancel demolition orders; another case pending before Supreme Court against eviction orders.

Supreme Court: "This case is not one of primary public importance."

On 15 September 2014, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected Adalah's request to appeal against the Be'er Sheva District Court's decision, which permits the demolition of all homes in the unrecognized Arab Bedouin village of Umm el-Hieran in the Naqab (Negev). As a result, the villagers have exhausted all legal possibilities available to them to cancel the demolition orders against their village. The Israeli authorities plan to demolish the village in order to establish a new Jewish town called "Hiran" over its ruins.

According to the Court’s decision, "There is no explanation to be found in the conditions of the case to justify the possibility of granting the appeal, because this issue has no primary public importance beyond the parties in the specific case." The Court's decision focused on technical matters pertaining to legal action taken by the planning authorities, but it failed to address the serious human rights problem of demolishing an entire Arab Bedouin village and displacing all of its residents so that Israeli Jewish citizens may benefit from a new town. Nonetheless, Adalah will soon submit a request to the Court to stay or stop the implementation of this decision until another decision is made in the case of the eviction against the residents of Atir-Umm el-Hieran, which is still pending before the Supreme Court (Case citation: HCJ 3094/11, Ibrahim Abu al Qian et al. v. The State of Israel)

The residents of Atir-Umm el-Hieran, represented by Adalah, have been involved in a tenacious legal struggle for nearly a decade and have been appearing before Israeli courts in regards to two parallel cases: (1) the case of the demolition orders issued against their homes, and (2) the case of the eviction orders against the residents which is still pending before the Supreme Court and awaiting a decision, expected in the coming months. If the Court accepts the residents' appeal in the evacuation case, it would reopen the opportunity for the residents to demand the cancellation of the demolition orders.

In September 2003, the Magistrates’ Court issued ex parte demolition orders on all the houses of the twin villages without taking into consideration the existing residents, who lived on the land. The villagers learned of the court's decision only after a period of time, when reports of the police's intention to execute the orders were revealed. In 2004, the state then issued evacuation orders for all the residents, claiming that they are "trespassing on state land." Important to note, however, is that the villagers have been living on the land by order of the Israeli military governor in the 1950s, who relocated them to this area in 1956 after they were forcibly displaced from their village of origin, Khirbet Zubaleh, in 1948.

For more information:

Adalah's press release, "Supreme Court to Attorney General: Why not include Umm el-Hieran into the area's new master plan, rather than demolish it?" 12 June 2014

Adalah’s press release, “Israeli Supreme Court Hears Adalah’s Appeal against Evacuation of Unrecognised Bedouin Village of Umm el-Hieran to Build New Jewish Town on its Ruins,” 25 November 2013

Adalah’s report, "Nomads Against Their Will: The Example of Atir-Umm el-Hieran"

Watch the video "Umm al-Hieran Unrecognized Village v. Hiran Settlement" by Adalah and the Negev Coexistence Forum


Read more about the Israeli government’s plan to forcibly displace thousands of Arab Bedouin citizens in the Naqab (Negev)