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Israel: Indigenous Arab Bedouins face imminent eviction

November 29 2016

Residents prepare for the first stage of the demolition. Photo: Adalah
Israeli forces have earmarked for complete destruction of Atir-Umm al-Hiran, an indigenous Bedouin village in the Negev, southern Israel.

Last week, the Israel Land Authority (ILA) announced its plans of demolition of the Arab Bedouin village of Atir-Umm al-Hiran. ILA explained that the demolition will take place in order to build a Jewish town and at the same time expand the Yatir Forest. This policy will entail evicting around 1,000 indigenous Arab Bedouin residents.

In January 2016, the Israeli Supreme Court issued its final decision in the case of Atir-Umm al-Hiran, rejecting an extraordinary motion for a second hearing on the case, which requested that the Court reconsider its decision to approve the state's plan to evict the Bedouins. This ruling effectively meant that the eviction and demolition procedures in the village could proceed and its inhabitants be moved to the Bedouin township Hura.

A historic denial of basic human rights

This will be the fourth resettlement of this Bedouin community since it was dispossessed of its traditional lands in 1949. After having been relocated twice by the government, the Bedouins were finally settled in Atir-Umm al-Hiran, where they have lived for almost 60 years.

The Bedouins are citizens of Israel and besides being denied their rights to land and to a secure environment, they have also been denied other basic human rights, including access to water and sanitation, health and education. 

Moving to Hura -one of the ten villages that have received recognition over the last decade- will not improve their living conditions. They will no longer be able to pursue their traditional farming way of life, the villages offer few if any local employment opportunities, and suffer from overcrowding  and inadequate infrastructure.