Help thousands of Bedouin stop home demolitions

 
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Attorney Mahameed & Sheikh Sayyah of Al-Araqib
Attorney Mahameed & Sheikh Sayyah of Al-Araqib

Adalah works through legal representation to defend and advance the rights of Arab Bedouin citizens in the Naqab in the face of efforts by the state of Israel to displace them from their lands and villages. Below are two examples of our cases from the first quarter of 2015.

1) Criminal indictments withdrawn against Sheikh S. A-T. from Al-Araqib:

Adalah Attorney Aram Mahameed: "The goal behind the indictments is to criminalize Arab Bedouin villagers for their attempts to save their homes."

On 24 February 2015, during a hearing in the Be'er Sheva Magistrates' Court, the state prosecution announced the withdrawal of criminal indictments against Sheikh S. A-T, leader of the unrecognized Arab Bedouin village of Al-Araqib in the Naqab. The prosecutors had charged the Sheikh with "forcibly taking control" of the village's land and "failing to obey orders to leave the land" after he refused to comply with eviction orders issued against him. The decision to withdraw the indictments was an indication, as Adalah argued before the court, that the state’s charges against Sheikh S. were legally baseless. The case is the last of a group of 14 criminal indictments filed against villagers and activists in Al-Araqib, who were arrested and injured during protests against home demolitions in the village in 2010 and 2011. In all of these cases, either the activists received very light sentences, or the state withdrew the charges, or the court cancelled the indictments.

2) Demanding public transportation for Bedouin voters in unrecognized villages on Election Day:

Adalah’s Khalil Alamour and Amjad Iraqi: “The Bedouin should not have to count how many cars are needed to demand recognition and equality at the ballot box.”

On 22 January 2015, Adalah sent a letter to Israel’s Central Elections Committee requesting that public transportation routes be provide for Bedouin residents of the Naqab in order to allow them to vote in the Israeli general election on 17 March 2015. The letter argued that the lack of public transportation impedes the residents' right to vote and directly influences voter levels in these villages. This is particularly damaging for residents of villages facing imminent home demolition or eviction, for whom the election results could make a major the difference. However, in March, shortly before the election, the Committee refused Adalah's request, stating that it “requires a large built system, and also requires resources and preparations that the elections committee cannot commit to," Despite this decision, Adalah highlighted the obstacles to Bedouin voters’ rights for future efforts, and also raised awareness in the media about the issue.

This legal work is made possible through your contributions via Global Giving – thank you! As we continue our work, we hope that you will help us reach our goal of raising $20,000 so that Adalah can continue to support the Bedouin community with high-quality legal representation, in-depth study tours for influential stakeholders, and practical human rights workshops for Bedouin activists. Together we can struggle to halt the ongoing forced displacement and dispossession, and work to ensure that the Bedouin can remain in their homes and on their lands with dignity.

Please join us and stand for Adalah, stand for Justice!

Naqab Tour with Central Elections Committee
Naqab Tour with Central Elections Committee
Sign at entrance of village of Atir/Umm el-Hieran
Sign at entrance of village of Atir/Umm el-Hieran

Between October and December 2014, Adalah initiated various legal actions on behalf of Arab Bedouin citizens in the Naqab to defend their right to live on their ancestral land. The State of Israel is attempting to forcefully evict the Bedouins and confiscate their lands in order to build Israeli Jewish-only communities and military complexes. Adalah’s lawyers represent Bedouin citizens before Israeli courts and state authorities to cancel demolition orders against their homes, and to acquire basic services such as schools, roads, clinics and others in order to establish infrastructure that keep the lands in Bedouin hands while asserting their fundamental right to these services as citizens of the state. Below are three examples of our recent cases:

Saving Atir/Umm el-Hieran: For over a decade, Adalah has represented the residents of the twin villages of Atir and Umm el-Hieran against the state’s plans to expand a forest and build a Jewish town on their lands. From October to December 2014, Adalah submitted motions to the Supreme Court and the lower courts, as well as letters to the state, to deter the implementation of demolition and evictions orders. Currently, the home demolition orders have been frozen until mid-March 2015.

Safe roads to schools: In December 2014, Adalah sent a legal letter to the Israeli Ministries of Transportation and Education and the Al-Kassoum Regional Council, demanding the opening of safe roads to schools in the unrecognized Bedouin villages of Al Amal and Tal-Arad. Without paved roads, the paths to the schools are treacherous in the winter, as they become flooded and the students and teachers are unable to reach them.

Establishing a health clinic: In December 2014, Adalah sent a legal letter to the Israeli Deputy Minister of Health and to the Clalit Health Services, demanding the establishment of a health clinic for the Bedouin residents of the villages of Kahla (Kohleh) and Makhool (total population almost 2,000). Under current circumstances, village residents have to travel to the town of Kessife, 9 km away, to receive medical treatment.

This legal work is made possible through your contributions via Global Giving – thank you! As we continue our work in 2015, we hope that you will help us reach our goal of raising $20,000 so that Adalah can continue to support the Bedouin community with high-quality legal representation, in-depth study tours for influential stakeholders, and practical human rights workshops for Bedouin activists. Together we improve the services provided and halt the ongoing forced displacement, and ensure that the Bedouin can remain in their homes and on their lands with dignity.

Please join us, and thank you for calling on your friends to stand with Adalah, and stand for Justice!

Al-Fur
Al-Fur'a road before Adalah's legal intervention
Al-Fur
Al-Fur'a road after Adalah's legal intervention
Latin American diplomats examine Naqab landscape
Latin American diplomats examine Naqab landscape

"In Alsira, the citizens must fend for themselves without the same services as most citizens in Israel. The ingenuity that the residents of Alsira have shown in providing these services for themselves and their community is impressive and commendable. It is frusturating that, as citizens, they do not receive equal access and rights to government resources." - Participant in Law Students’ Tour

Between May and July 2014, Adalah, along with NGO partner the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality (NCF), organized several tours for diplomats, journalists and students to Arab Bedouin villages in the Naqab (Negev). The tours sought to raise awareness about the challenges facing the Bedouin community, particularly those living under heightened threat of displacement due to discriminatory Israeli government plans.  Through the study tours and field visits, Adalah works to educate and achieve effective engagement at all levels of influence, whether with community members, opinion-shapers or decision-makers.

Latin American Diplomats: In May 2014, Adalah and NCF hosted a delegation of 10 diplomatic representatives from Latin American embassies in Israel on a tour of the Naqab.  The delegation took place in advance of a regional Latin American meeting with the Israeli government, and the group was able to raise concerns about the human rights challenges facing the indigenous Bedouin community. The group visited the construction site of “Intelligence City” a military complex that is located in an area populated by over 9,000 Beoduin citizzens of Israel living in several unrecognized villages.  The delegation also visited the recently-recognized Bedouin villages, such as Umm-Batin and Abu Tlul, which continue to be denied access to basic infrastructure and regularly experience the demolition of new buildings. The diplomats also witnessed first-hand the problems of forced urbanization on the Arab Bedouin community in the government-planned township of Hura, one of seven such townships that suffer from poverty, overcrowding and lack of services. The participants expressed enthusiasm for the visit and commented that such tours were important in raising awareness of the issues facing the Bedouin community.

International Law Students:In June 2014, Adalah and NCF also hosted a delegation of law students from Australia, Canada and the USA to the Naqab, as part of the Palestine Works and Al Haq Fellows Conference. About 20 law students attended the tour, where they learned the history of the Bedouin community and were able to contextualize the current legal and human rights reality in the Naqab. The students were able to meet with representatives and residents of unrecognized villages as well as recently-recognized villages and government-planned Bedouin townships.  The comprehensive tour for young human rights practitioners highlighted the entrenched system of discrimination that excludes the Bedouin community and denies them their basic human rights and civil rights as citizens of Israel.

These tours are made possible through your contributions via Global Giving – thank you! As we continue our work in 2014, we hope that you will help us reach our goal of raising $20,000 so that Adalah can offer more in-depth study tours to key stakeholders, provide practical human rights workshops to Bedouin citizens, and support the community through legal representation. Together we can halt the ongoing forced displacement of the Bedouin community, and ensure that they remain in their homes and on their ancestral land with dignity.

Please join us, and thank you for calling on your friends to stand with Adalah, and stand for Justice!

Diplomats discuss Bedouin rights in Umm el-Hieran
Diplomats discuss Bedouin rights in Umm el-Hieran
Law students learn about Naqab land discrimination
Law students learn about Naqab land discrimination
Atwa
Atwa

"I know that the state is planning to build a Jewish village named Hiran and that some of the houses in the village are included within a master plan. The plan for Hiran's development in the area is proof that this land is suitable for residency. In addition, the fact that our village was built by the military regime, that we've been here since 1956, that we've built our homes, raised our families and developed our community here, is reason enough for us to oppose our transfer to any other village." 'Atwa '

"In a decision that was given in part of the evacuation orders, the court ruled that we are authorized to be here.  However, the state claimed that we were trespassers, and so their demand for us to leave the village is based on partial and irrelevant consideration. This approach is discriminatory based on our national identity and has no business in planning, legal or any other issue." Khalil 

"In October 1997, there was a storm around the area of the Yatir River. Heavy rains caused erosion and flooding in and around the village. As a result, three girls from the village were swept away and killed by the floods, and most of the houses in the village were completely destroyed. After the disaster, Ariel Sharon, who at the time was the Minister of National Infrastructure, visited us and the government decided to assist in rebuilding the village. We bought materials and rebuilt our houses, but by 2004, the state announced that we have to leave our village and that our homes will be demolished." Ali 

"Our tribe lived in Wadi Zubaleh before we moved to Umm el-Hieran, which today is part of the agricultural areas that were allocated to Kibbutz Shoval. Our tribe used to cultivate the land there for many years. The legal procedures for our land claims have been pending since the 1970's and there are still no decisions by the state." Ahmad 

"The people of Umm el-Hieran form a close social unit based on strong communal solidarity among all families. The evacuation of the village will break those connections and hurt the social structure of our families and all the residents of the village." Salim 

The twin villages of Atir and Umm el-Hieran are slated to be demolished and the lands used to build a new Jewish town called “Hiran”, and to expand a Jewish National Fund (JNF)-sponsored forest called “Yatir”. The approval of the state’s plans for Atir-Umm el-Hieran will mark the second mass displacement and dispossession of the Arab Bedouin villagers since the establishment of Israel. 

Adalah has been representing the residents of Atir-Umm el-Hieran for over 10 years before all levels of Israeli Courts and in Land and Planning Committees against these demolition orders and eviction lawsuits. Adalah is currently defending the villagers against a total of 25 eviction lawsuits, 33 demolition orders, and 3 master plans.

A history of displacement and discrimination

In 1956, the Israeli military governor moved the Al-Qian tribe to the lands of Atir-Umm el-Hieran after the state confiscated their land and expelled them from their ancestral village of Khirbet Zubaleh. Although the state relocated the residents to those lands, it refused to legally recognize their village. As a result, the state did not issue the villagers permits to build new homes and infrastructure, and the village was denied basic services including water, electricity, schools and sewage systems.

In 2002, the Israeli government announced plans to establish the Jewish town “Hiran” over Umm el-Hieran and to expand the “Yatir” forest over Atir. In November 2013, the government approved the acceleration of the construction of four new Jewish towns in the Naqab including Hiran, despite the fact that several cases remain pending in the courts against the demolition of the village and the evacuation of its people.

Meanwhile, a group of Israeli Jewish citizens have built a gated community inside the Yatir Forest neighboring Umm el-Hieran, waiting for the evacuation of the Bedouins in order to move into Hiran. This unauthorized illegal community has been connected to the electricity and water networks, while the 1,000 residents of Atir-Umm el-Hieran have never received these most basic services for the past 58 years.

The case of Atir-Umm el-Hieran poses a very important question: can Israel demolish an Arab village and forcefully evict its residents, in order to establish a town for Jewish citizens and a man-made forest over its ruins? 

For more information:

Our legal and advocacy work are made possible through your contributions via Global Giving – thank you!

As we head further into 2014, we hope that you will help us reach our goal of raising $20,000 so that Adalah can support the community through important legal representation to save their homes and their village, offer more study tours for media and decision-makers, and continue to provide human rights workshops to Bedouin citizens. 

Please join us, and also ask your friends to stand with Adalah, stand for Justice!

Khalil
Khalil
Ali
Ali
Ahmad
Ahmad
Salim
Salim

Links:

Diplomats partake in field visit to the Naqab
Diplomats partake in field visit to the Naqab

Thanks to your contributions, between October 2013 and January 2014, Adalah conducted over 20 study tours in the Naqab (Negev) for foreign diplomats, representatives of international human rights organizations and development agencies, inter-faith groups, students and academics, and journalists.

Adalah’s study tours brought guests to unrecognized Arab Bedouin villages and government-planned towns, and provided a platform for Palestinian Bedouin community leaders to voice their most pressing concerns. The study tours focused on villages that are most “at-risk” of being demolished by the discriminatory Prawer Plan, and highlight Adalah’s legal efforts to safeguard the land, and civil and social-economic rights of Bedouin citizens of Israel.

These study tours provided the Bedouin community with access to opinion-shapers and decision-makers who influence the Israeli and international public discourse. Two highlights of Adalah’s recent study tours include:

Tour for Hebrew-language bloggers: In November 2013, together with our partner the Negev Coexistence Forum (NCF), Adalah organized a study tour for 12 Hebrew-language bloggers on the situation of the unrecognized Bedouin villages. The participants included journalists from the leading Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, photographers from Activestills, and other freelance bloggers. The participants produced articles and blogs that were widely shared and read by Hebrew readers, helping to raise awareness of the human rights challenges facing the Bedouin community.

Field visit for diplomats: In December 2013, Adalah joined partner organizations the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, and NCF, in organizing a tour for 20 ambassadors and representatives of foreign embassies in Israel.  Following a tour to several of the Bedouin villages most threatened by demolition, the diplomats participated in a panel with the civil society experts and Bedouin representatives about the history, legal claims and planning opportunities for the community. The panel discussion focused on halting the Prawer Plan, and the diplomats expressed great interest in raising the community’s opposition to the plan to the government of Israel.

As a result of these activities, the grave human rights situation in the Naqab has received extensive attention both locally and internationally.  We’ve seen extensive media coverage (examples of English can be found here), and international actors are also remaining vigilant as the Israeli government continues to deliberate on the implementation of the Prawer Plan.

These tours are made possible through your contributions via Global Giving – thank you!

As we head into 2014, we hope that you will help us reach our goal of raising $20,000 so that Adalah can offer more study tours for media and decision-makers, continue to provide human rights workshops to Bedouin citizens, and support the community through legal representation to save their homes and stop the Prawer Plan. Please join us, and also ask your friends to stand with Adalah, stand for Justice!

Guests discuss concerns of Bedouin citizens
Guests discuss concerns of Bedouin citizens
Hebrew bloggers share writing ideas after tour
Hebrew bloggers share writing ideas after tour

Links:

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Project Leader

Alyssa Bernstein

Beersheva, Beersheva Israel

Where is this project located?

Map of Help thousands of Bedouin stop home demolitions