Help thousands of Bedouin stop home demolitions

May 12, 2014

Time Slips Through Our Fingers: Atir & Umm el-Hieran


"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!



Feb 5, 2014

Thanks to your help, Bedouin rights are on the public agenda

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


Oct 16, 2013

Human rights activists know their rights thanks to your help

Mufeed Swelem: "Now I know my rights"
Mufeed Swelem: "Now I know my rights"

Hoda Anu Obayed, 24, Lakiya: "It was an amazing workshop. I am happy I could come. Now, I am more powerful and I feel strongerIt's essential information for activists. I know more about my rights, what I am allowed to do and what I cannot do. I can work much more effectively and directly contribute to my community."

Mufeed Swelem, 23, Seveg Shalom: "I am glad and proud to have attended this workshop. I was arrested during the July events. Now I know my rights and I feel more confident. Next time, I will inquire as to why I am being arrested and whether or not the arrest is illegal. I will be more careful. Many thanks to Adalah and the NCF for all of this information!"

On October 1 2013, Adalah, in partnership with the Negev Coexistence Forum (NCF), held a human rights workshop for 15 young Arab Bedouin activists, 11 men and 4 women, in the unrecognized village of Khashem Zanneh. The activists, from recognized and unrecognized villages, are struggling against home demolitions and for better living conditions and access to state services, especially in at-risk villages threatened by the Prawer Plan.

Adalah Board member Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein led the workshop for  the activists on  their rights to demonstrate, including how to obtain a demonstration permitwhat their rights are if they are ,arrested and investigated, including access to lawyers and translators. Activists in the Naqab need this information as they are struggling and demonstrating against the Prawer Plan.

The activists took home "Know Your Rights" pocket guides, Adalah's Myths and Misconceptions about the Arab Bedouin, and information on discriminatory laws targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The workshop was made possible in part through your support via Global Giving - - thank you! We more than doubled our original goal and raised over $10,000 in just one month!

We are now trying to raise $20,000 before the end of the year so that Adalah can offer more workshops, provide more study tours for media  and decision-makers, and support the  activists through legal representation to save their homes and stop the Prawer Plan. Please join us, and ask your friends!

Participants discuss what they
Participants discuss what they've learned
15 activists took the human rights workshop
15 activists took the human rights workshop

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Project Leader

Alyssa Bernstein

Beersheva, Beersheva Israel

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Map of Help thousands of Bedouin stop home demolitions