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Volume 20, November 2005

Magistrate Court Imposes House Arrest on Six Arab Bedouin Detainees Following Protests in Unrecognized Village in the Naqab against Home Demolition Orders

On 29 November 2005, the Beer el-Sabe’ (Beer Sheva) Magistrate Court issued a order to place six Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel under house arrest for a period of three months. On 17 November 2005, Adalah Attorney Morad el-Sana and private Attorney Shafeeq Abu Hani jointly filed an appeal to the Beer el-Sabe’ District Court on seeking the release of four Arab Bedouin citizens after police officers assaulted and detained residents of the unrecognized Arab Bedouin village of Beer el-Mahash in the Naqab (Negev) on 15 November 2005. The four detainees represented in the appeal were released at a hearing of the District Court on 18 November 2005. On 20 November 2005, the Attorney General’s (AG) Office submitted a request to the Beer el-Sabe’ District Court to continue holding the four detainees represented by Adalah Attorney El-Sana until the completion of the procedures against the eight individuals. On 23 November 2005, the District Court decided to release the four remaining detainees.

According to the police, they initially entered the village of Beer el-Mashash on 15 November 2005 to protect investigators from the Ministry of the Interior, who were distributing home demolition orders to the Abu Sbeet family, on the pretext of building without a permit. Police officers assaulted residents of the village, alleging that it was the police who had come under assault from the residents. Additional police officers then forcibly entered the village with reinforcements from special units and detained 42 people for investigation. The police subsequently released the majority of the detainees, but prolonged the detention of nine individuals, including Mr. Hussein al-Rafaya, the Head of the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages in the Naqab (RCUV), who was charged with incitement. Mr. al-Rafaya was released the following day after the el-Sabe’ Magistrate Court found no justification for his detention. The remaining eight detainees, however, remained in police custody.

In the appeal to the District Court it was argued that the Magistrate Court had erred in ruling that the detainees posed a threat to public safety and that Magistrate Court should order an alternative to detention, which would not affect the progress of the investigation. It was further argued that the nature of the alleged offenses and the conditions in which the events took places, in addition to the detained individuals’ personal circumstances, prove that they do not constitute a risk to the public. Furthermore, as most of the available evidence is based on photographs and the testimonies of police officers who were present at the location, it is therefore not possible for their clients to obstruct the investigation.

During the District Court hearing, the attorneys argued in the case of the first of the three detainees, a 47-year-old man with no criminal record and a father of six children, that there is no evidence to connect him to the aforementioned events, and that he was present in the area in the context of his work to film and document the events for the RCUV. He was assaulted by police officers who threw him to the ground, seized his camera and arrested him. Regarding the second and third detainees, the attorneys argued that they are not residents of the village, and were in the area by chance. They were arrested inside the shagg, the place traditionally designated for guests.

On 29 November 2005, the Court also raised the bail charge from the six detainees under house arrest from 2,500 to 10,000 New Israeli Shekels (NIS) and raised the bail charge for the remaining two detainees from NIS 2,500 to NIS 5,000.