UN human rights experts raise grave concerns about Israel’s planned forced displacement of Bedouin

Six UN Special Rapporteurs issued a joint letter to Israel, recently made public, raising serious concerns about Israeli government plans to forcibly displace 36,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel.


Six UN Special Rapporteurs issued a joint letter to Israel in May 2019, recently made public, raising serious concerns about the Israeli government's plans to forcibly displace 36,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel living in the Naqab/Negev. The letter also raised grave concerns regarding the persecution and detention of Sheikh Sayah Abu Madhi’m A-Turi, a Bedouin human rights defender and leader of the unrecognized Bedouin village of al-Araqib, for his protests against home demolitions and forced evictions.


The letter was signed by the UN human rights experts, namely, the Special Rapporteurs on cultural rights; on adequate housing; on human rights defenders; on internally displaced persons; on minority issues; and on racism and racial discrimination.


The letter follows both a joint submission by the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality (NCF) and the Human Rights Defenders Fund (HRDF) to the UN Special Procedures, regarding the arrest and persecution of Sheikh Sayah, and statements delivered and meetings held in March 2019 by Adalah and NCF with several of the Special Rapporteurs and/or their representatives in Geneva regarding Israel’s mass eviction plans of the Bedouin in the Naqab/Negev.


The Special Rapporteurs noted the announcement of the Authority for  Development and Settlement of the Bedouin in the Negev ("the Bedouin Authority") in January 2019 that it plans to "evacuate" 36,000 Bedouin citizens in order to build or expand a highway, a weapons testing facility, a military firing zone, a high voltage electricity line, and a phosphate mine. Adalah and human rights partner organizations are currently challenging several of these “development induced displacement” plans before Israeli courts and land planning committees.


The Special Rapporteurs wrote in their letter: "These massive population transfers suggest that not all viable alternative solutions to avoid forced evictions, a gross violation of human rights which also constitutes internal displacement, have been considered, as required under international human rights law."


The letter stated that the Israeli government's demolition of Bedouin homes could "exacerbate the overall sentiment within the Bedouin minority of a continued and mounting persecution" and warned about the "irreparable damage these demolitions and evictions have on the traditional way of life of the Bedouin minority, their livelihoods, their specific forms of living and cultural practices, and their relationship to their land."


CLICK HERE to read the UN Special Rapporteurs' Letter


CLICK HERE to read press release of the NCF and the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages in the Negev (RCUV) about forced evictions