Bulldozers to raze Palestinian village in Israel

Tens of thousands of Bedouin Palestinians live in “unrecognised” villages across Israel’s Negev region.

Women, residents of the Umm Al-Hiran, a Bedouin village which is not recognised by the Israeli government, hold banners during a protest in Israel''s southern Negev desert
Bedouin Palestinians regularly endure home demolitions in Israel's Negev region [File: Ammar Awad/Reuters]

The Israeli government has announced plans to demolish Umm al-Hiran, a Bedouin village in the country’s southern Negev region that is home to Palestinian citizens of Israel. 

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The Israel Lands Administration (ILA), a governmental body that administers public land, said it will begin razing the village on Tuesday. At least 30 residents will be displaced. 

At time of publication, the ILA had not replied to Al Jazeera’s request for comment. 

The Israeli government plans to build a Jewish village for families linked to illegal settlement movement in the occupied West Bank in the place of Umm al-Hiran, while forcibly transferring Palestinian villagers to planned townships in the Negev desert.

A petition was filed on Monday in a court by Adalah, a Haifa-based advocacy group for the rights of the estimated 1.7 million Palestinians who carry Israeli citizenship and live in cities, towns and villages within the country’s borders. 

“The case of Umm al-Hiran encapsulates Israel’s land policy – whether it’s on the Israeli side of the Green Line or the occupied territories,” Amjad Iraqi, Adalah’s international advocacy coordinator, told Al Jazeera, referring to the line demarcating present-day Israel from the occupied West Bank. 

‘Many demolitions’ 

“This village is one example of dozens of unrecognised villages in the Negev which are slated for destruction,” Iraqi added.

“It comes at a time when there are many demolitions occurring in both unrecognised and newly recognised Bedouin villages.” 

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Including Umm al-Hiran, some 40 “unrecognised” Bedouin villages in the Negev region are slated for demolition despite being home to tens of thousands of residents.

Most of these communities were put on the land in question by the Israeli military after being displaced from their ancestral villages during the 1948 establishment of Israel


Because Israel does not recognise the villages, many are denied access to electricity, water, and other municipal services. 

Earlier this month, Israeli bulldozers destroyed al-Araqib, a southern Negev village that has been demolished more than 100 times since 2010.

Knesset member Yousef Jabareen, who is a member of the predominantly Arab Joint List electoral coalition, condemned the move to demolish Umm al-Hiran as a “dangerous escalation” targeting Israel’s Palestinian citizens. 

“It proves the government continues its policy to target the Arab community and treat them as enemies at the expense of their basic right to housing,” Jabareen told Al Jazeera, noting the move comes at a time when Israeli lawmakers are attempting to legalise Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank. 

“This is a government that targets its Palestinian citizens, while oppressing the Palestinian people [and] denying both Palestinian groups their basic rights for dignity and freedom.” 

According to Adalah’s online database, Palestinian citizens of Israel suffer from dozens of discriminatory laws that limit their access to state resources – including land – and stifle their political freedoms. 

Last week, a ministerial committee in the Israeli government approved a bill banning mosques from using loudspeakers to broadcast the call to prayer. The bill has not yet been passed by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

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Source: Al Jazeera