26 January 2012
Adalah Appeals Court Decision Upholding Home Demolition Orders in Unrecognized Arab Bedouin Village of Umm al-Hieran in the Naqab
On 25 January 2012, Adalah submitted an appeal to the Beer el-Sabe (Beer Sheva) District Court on behalf of 19 Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel living in the unrecognized village of Umm al-Hieran in the Naqab (Negev) whose homes are threatened with demolition. The appeal was filed against the Magistrates' Court decision to uphold the home demolition orders issued against the village. Adalah Attorneys Suhad Bishara and Aram Mahamed filed the appeal.
The Kiryat Gat Magistrates' Court rejected Adalah's motion to cancel the 33 home demolition orders on 11 December 2011 in the presence of dozens of villagers. The decision paves the way for the establishment of the exclusively Jewish town of "Hiran" on the same land. Adalah represents the residents and requested that the home demolition orders be cancelled in 2007. The state obtained the orders from the courtex parte –without the presence of the owners – and they had been frozen since then.Following the decision, Attorney Bishara noted that the court had completely supported the government's position to evacuate the area for the exclusive resettlement of Jewish citizens of Israel.
In the appeal, Adalah argued that the Magistrates' Court decision was contrary to the National Planning and Building Law – 1965. Firstly, the Magistrates' Court upheld the demolition orders despite the fact that there was no clear evidence before it that the home owners had built their homes illegally. Secondly, the state did not identify each home owner individually; it dealt with the homes slated for demolition as a group rather than on an individual basis, as is required by the law. Thirdly, the court sustained the demolition orders in the absence of a compelling public interest to justify the demolitions. Furthermore, the Magistrates' Courtdecision did not take account of the violationof the villagers' constitutional rights to property, dignity and equality entailed by the demolition orders. Adalah is now awaiting a date for a hearing on the appeal.
As Attorney Bishara wrote, the Magistrates' Court judge "ignored the history of the people of Umm el-Hieran who were uprooted from their ancestral lands and displaced to the land of Umm el-Hieran by military order in 1956."
The villagers of Atir-Umm el-Hieran have a history of expulsion and displacement. Prior to 1948, the villagers lived in Khirbet Zubaleh, located in Wadi Zubaleh, which is now part of Kibbutz Shuval. After 1948, the Israeli Military Governor in the Naqab ordered the residents to leave their village and their homes and move to Lagiyya. In 1956, they were again displaced to Wadi Atory, where they have remained until today. The villagers were then given 7,000 dunams of land to live on and cultivate. The residents built permanent homes in the region, and made great efforts to create a sense of community that had been disrupted with each forced displacement. In 2003, through evacuation lawsuits and ex parte demolition orders, the State of Israel again attempted to forcibly displace the nearly 1,000 residents of the villages. The State's public intention is to demolish and evacuate the villages, and to subsequently establish the Jewish town of "Hiran" on the same land.
For more information, see:
Adalah's Report on Umm el-Hieran "Nomads Against Their Will".
A short film about the village.