Das Beduinendorf Al-Arakib
(der Friedhof des Dorfes hat die Koordinaten 31,346220; 34,781118)
und der Prawer-Plan
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Demolitions and Arrests in Al-Arakib: Summary
Thursday, June 12: In the course of the legal proceedings in an attempt to stop the eviction orders, large forces arrived at the cemetery of Al-Arakib. When the court decided to delay the execution, the forces almost completed the destruction. All structures in the cemetery where the residents lived where demolished, water tanks were empty and taken away and the olive trees were already uprooted. The forces granted permission to finish the demolition and during the afternoon they removed the turret of the mosque in the cemetery. During the eviction of the mosque area in order to remove the turret, seven people were arrested. Three minors were released at the smae night. Another activist was arrested in the morning and got released at the afternoon.
Video from the demolition by Silvia Boarini
Friday, June 13: The Five detainees were brought to court in Be’er sheva, and in the meantime dozens demonstrated outside the courthouse. The court released two of the detainees with no conditions, two were banished from the village for a week, and the arrest of one was extended until Sunday. At the evening police arrived to the village and arrested two minors, one was released that night and the other was released on the next day. Police forces remained in Al-Arakib and they stayed in the village around the clock.
Sunday, June 15: In the morning demolition forces arrived at the village of Al-Arakib and demolished a couple of shacks that were built in the area. In the court hearing of the detainee from Thursday, judge decided to extend the detention until Tuesday. During the weekly protest of the village in Lehavim junction, policemen patrolled between protesters and filmed their faces on video.
Tuesday, June 17: At the court hearing, the detainee from Thursday was released to house arrest, with the possibility to work. During the night police vans came into the cemetery.
Wednesday, June 18: In the morning demolition forces came to the village and destroyed two shacks and a shed that were built in the village. In the afternoon a group of policemen entered into the cemetery and patrolled in the area.
Over the last week Yoav unit, the special police unit that was established as part of the Prawer Plan, took measures that were not taken before, including the frequent demolitions, the presence of policemen around the clock and the entrance to the cemetery.
The residents of Al-Arakib are determined to continue their struggle despite the demolitions, the arrests, the police harassment and the difficult conditions they live in.
For further info please contact Michal: firstname.lastname@example.org
URGENT UPDATE: the destruction of the cemetery compound: Al-Arakib JUNE 12-13 2014
At about 10:00 Thursday morning (June 12th), local time, a large contingent of police cordoned off the village, confining residents and activists in the cemetery’s mosque (which was not demolished),while tractors and bulldozers did their devastating work and demolished the houses of the residents in the cemetery compound. With the exception of the graves themselves, the whole compound was demolished, and a caravan used as a learning center and containers were taken away. The forces empty the village’s water tanks, that were later taken too. The rubbles were taken away by lorries, so the site is now empty.
In the early afternoon the police demanded that the area of the old mosque be evacuated in order that the consructors could demolish the improvised minaret. Several residents and activists refused and 7 people were arrested, including Rabbi Arik Asherman of Rabbis for Human Rights. Five of the detainees were not released on Thursday night and were brought to court today, while four of them were released, one will stay in jail until Sunday. During the hearings a big demonstration took place in front of the court.
The residents of Al Arakib are determined not to give up the fight for their right to their ancestral lands. The struggle continues!
The Struggle of Al-Arakib
As reported in our last update, the residents of Al Arakib have received eviction notices requiring them to leave their lands between June 12 – July 12, 2014.
Today, Following the residents of Al-Arakib’s appeal to the court in Ramle, the eviction orders were postponed for a few days. According to the court decision, the eviction orders that are based on a court decision from 2003 does not apply to the cemetery area. From the moment that this decision will be handed to the Israeli Land Administration, they will have to response within 72 hours. This is probably just the begining of the struggle on these eviction orders.
As part of a campaign aimed at preventing the eviction, a petition has been drawn up - please sign and forward the petition to as many people and organizations as possible as well as including it on your social networking pages. We are aiming for 5,000 signatures: 10,000 would be even better!
More info about the struggle can be found here
The Supreme Court Proposes Mediation in the Inheritors of Sheikh Sliman Al-Ukbi Appeal
On Monday, June 2nd, a hearing in the appeal of the Inheritors of Sheikh Sliman Al-Ukbi took place at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem. As the Be’er-Sheva district court did not recognize their land rights, the Sheikh’s Inheritors arrived at the Supreme Court, demanding recognition of their ownership rights over their family lands in the areas of Al-Arakib and Zhilkiye.
Photo: The Inheritors of Sheikh Sliman Al-Ukbi with their Attorney Michael Sfard
In a positive development, the Supreme Court has proposed that there be mediation between the State and the Sheikh’s Inheritors regarding their claims to lands at Al-Arakib.
Click here for a comprehensive account of this complex case and the Supreme Court hearing prepared by Professor Oren Yiftachel of Ben Gurion University and Adam Keller, spokesman for Gush Shalom.
We will be keeping you informed as the situation develops here in the Negev.
Negev Coexistence Forum Update Alert: Even the dead face eviction at Al-Arakib
Sheikh Sayach Al-Turi holds the eviction order he received
The eviction orders the residents of Al-Arakib received
Since that demolition in 2010 Sheikh Sayach Al-Turi, who has led the resistance to the demolitions has been frequently harassed and was arrested several times for trespass. Sheikh Sayach was charged by the state on this issues in more than 20 court cases, and was handed several times with restraining orders preventing him from returning to the village, as have other members of his family. The firm stand of the people of Al-Arakib is not merely a symbol. It may well be that their resistance has deterred the authorities from pursuing equally draconian measures against the many other Bedouin villages under threat of demolition.
Sheikh Sayach Al-Turi says in response:
all the Jews who believe in equality and that it is possible for Arabs
and Jews to live together, mobilise in support of truth and justice and
stand up for every Bedouin home that this racist government intends to
demolish. The State tells the Bedouin: You don't have a place in the
Negev, no place in Israel. This is a great loss for the
Bedouin and a great loss for the Jews. As long as there is no
recognition of Bedouin rights to their lands, there will be no peace in
the region, no equality and no justice.”
There are a number of legal issues arising from the latest Order, not the least of which is the fact that the case of Al-Arakib and its land claims is still under consideration by the courts and have not been finally resolved. NCF together with other partners will explore the legal avenues that can be pursued in an attempt to avert this disastrous edict.
The Jewish National Fund (JNF) Strikes Again!
Despite an agreement not to conduct forestry works on sites where legal decisions on their status are pending, on May 12 2014 the JNF, accompanied by a large police contingent and several bulldozers, entered the unrecognized village of Awajan south west of the Bedouin town of Lakiya, and began preparations for forestation. The area chosen for these works, 700 dunam (some 175 acres) encroaches on land close to houses on the village perimeter.
In response to the bulldozers, villagers erected a protest tent on the forestation site but the following day (13.05) a police detail entered the village and ordered the tent to be removed. The officers were not wearing identity tags as required by law. The villagers refused to obey and a conflict ensued during which gas and shock grenades were used to subdue the protesters. Four children, aged between 8 – 14 years were arrested. The minors were taken to a police station where they were interrogated without the presence of parent or other responsible adult as required by law. The youngsters were released towards evening.
Atia Al-Assam, head of the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages attempted to explain to one of the policemen that the JNF operation was illegal and he was also arrested, but later released. However he is barred from entering the village for 14 days.
Read about the village of Awajan on NCF’s villages project website
Awajan borders on the recognized town of Lakiya some of its houses almost come within the limits of its municipal jurisdiction. A public committee from Lakiya is negotiating with the regional authorities and the Ministry of Defence, which has a planned intelligence base nearby, to permit the expansion of Lakiya's municipal boundaries to include the village of Awajan within its borders. A memorandum of agreement has been signed to this effect, which has not, however, prevented the JNF from invading the village's land unilaterally. It should be borne in mind that JNF is a so-called 'national institution', that is an arm of government. Its stated goal is the acquisition or, 'reclamation' of land for the state. Thus JNF does not function in a vacuum but is very much a part of state machinery. Yet in a surprising move, Minister of Agriculture Yair Shamir has ordered Thursday a halt to the JNF activity at the village and the works were stopped Sunday morning and renewed four hours later.
On Saturday, 17 May some 30 activists made a solidarity visit to the village, organized by NCF, Adalah, RCUV, Tarabut and the Recognition Forum. They toured the village and its environs, met with residents and expressed their concern and opposition to the forestation project.
State will not Destroy the Village of Alsira: The District Court Denied State’s Appeal
In 2006, the state of Israel issued demolition orders for all of the houses of the Bedouin unrecognized village of Alsira. On the ground, such a massive demolition would erase the whole village. After a long struggle, in 2011, the magistrates court of Kiryat Gat canceled these orders. Last week, the district court of Be’er Sheva denied the state’s appeal against the decision. The judge, Tali Haimovitch, wrote:
“This is an ancient village, that was established before the establishment of the state, and since then stayed in its place with no interruption... in order to uproot 350 people from their home and make them homeless, the public interest must be significant and strong”.
Negev Coexistence Forum congratulates the residents of Alsira for this court decision, and hopes to see more and more such positive decisions in the other ongoing struggles in the Negev-Naqab.
Read about the village of Al-Sira on NCF’s villages project website
The story in “Haaretz” (Hebrew)
Interview with Kalil Alamour, resident of the village (Hebrew)
NCF's Update from the Negev-Naqab
During the Pesach/Passover holiday NCF closed its doors and took a well-earned two-week break. The holiday period was not marred by home demolitions except for Al-Arakib which was demolished for the 63rd time just prior to the festival and right after it along with other houses in the villages.
Unfortunately, Arab citizens in the North of Israel in the town of Umm Al-Fahm and the village of Furadis suffered hate crimes directed at local mosques. NCF has sent letters of solidarity to the victims and condemns the crimes themselves and the weakness of the law enforcement authorities in finding the culprits and bringing them to court.
However there has also been some good news: the Be’er-Sheva Court has rejected the State's request to destroy the entire unrecognized village of Alsira in order to build a military industrial area and an army base on its lands. The judge's decision that there is no 'urgent and immediate need' to drive 350 people from their homes is an important precedent and one that we hope will influence the fate of other threatened villages like Umm Al-Heiran and Atir.
The Minister of Health, Yael German (Yesh Atid), has rejected the plan to mine phosphate at Sdeh Barir near the town of Arad. If the quarry had become active it would have caused serious environmental pollution to thousands of residents in the area, including those in the unrecognized villages of Al-Forah and A-Za’arura. The Minister's decision is opposed by those with economic interests in the quarry as well as those with a right-wing, anti-Bedouin agenda such as the NGO Regavim one of whose stated goals is to end 'illegal possession' of land by the Bedouin.
NCF's Annual House Demolitions Report
The Negev Coexistence Forum (NCF) has published its annual report on House Demolitions now available in English
The report may be summarized as follows:
During 2012 and throughout the first half of 2013, a total of 1376 homes were demolished in Israel’s southern district. Of them, 926 were demolished in 2012, with another 450 demolished by July 2013. The vast majority of these houses – namely, 1261, which constitute 91% of the overall demolished properties – were inside Bedouin villages.
Most of the demolitions executed by Israeli authorities, 620 in total, were commissioned by administrative warrants. 551 of these, constituting 99.5% of those issued throughout the district, were delivered to the Bedouin population.
Of all demolished houses of Bedouin citizens, about 636 homes were self-demolished by their owners. This is a result of an Israel Land Authority ( ILA) policy according to which residents are threatened to pay for the expenses of demolition of their own house. In 2013, as part of a massive wave of demolitions, entire neighbourhoods were destroyed. Unlike previous years (2011-2012), in which only stand-alone houses were destroyed, Israeli authorities have renewed demolition of entire complexes. In the unrecognized village of Atir, for instance, eight houses were demolished last May and hundreds of olive trees were uprooted in a single demolition event.
Furthermore, in the past few years authorities have begun submitting demolition warrants for long-established structures that have been modestly renovated. As such, entire houses were demolished in response to the smallest additions. In January 2013, for example, a house was demolished in the unrecognized village of Dahiyya, north of Rahat, after three stairs were built at its doorway. Such demolitions take place even if the renovation did not result in the expansion of the property, but rather comprised replacement of a leaking roof or wall.
Demolitions in 2013 were executed in the shadow of the Law for the Regulation of the Bedouin Settlement in the Negev, the so-called Prawer-Begin Plan, issued as a governmental directive in September 2011 and given preliminary approval by the Israeli Knesset in June 2013. As part of the plan, budgets were allocated for the establishment and administration of the “Authority for the Regulation of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev.” Significant funds were devoted to law enforcement activities, which led to the establishment of the “Coordination Directorate of Land Law Enforcement ( Hebrew acrostic MATPA), whose role is to administer and coordinate the activities of demolition enforcement bodies in the Negev.
One of MATPA’s executive bodies is the police combat unit, “Yoav,” whose job is to supervise and enforce planning and construction laws in the Negev. Established in 2013, the unit is equipped with about 150 officers, as well as water cannons and other crowd control technologies, weapons and helicopters. Through targeted recruitment of veteran combat soldiers, the unit is expected to grow to approximately 400 policemen.
The lack of data, confidentiality of maps, and ambiguity regarding the fate of the unrecognized villages under the Prawer-Begin-Shamir Plan is very disturbing. Such plans exist, but have been kept hidden from the public. NCF continues to monitor the situation and home demolitions in the Negev and urges the government to stop the home demolition immediately.
For the first time: Putting the Bedouin Unrecognized Villages of the Negev on the Map
Following the Prawer plan and other plans for settlement regulation in the Israeli Negev, the Negev Coexistence Forum (NCF) is launching a new website: The Arab-Bedouin villages in the Negev-Naqab.
On March 26 NCF will launch its documentary project of the Bedouin villages in the Negev. The project will air as an interactive, easy to operate, website which will provide information on the recognized and unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev. The site offers a map, text, photos, videos and more on each village in three languages – Hebrew, Arabic and English.
Click here to visit the new website (under construction)
The Bedouin unrecognized villages do not appear on Israel’s formal maps and information concerning the villages is not available. In view of the various development plans for the area which jeopardize the existence of the villages, the different committees and plans which examine the ways to arrange the settlement in the Negev and the disinformation published in the media, the goal of NCF’s project is to bring together information on the villages where people interested in the subject can be exposed to basic information such as: location of the villages, the unique story of each village and the governmental services or more so the lack of services.
All the information for the site was gathered in cooperation with the committees of the unrecognized villages. NCF’s staff visited the villages, conducted tours in the villages with the residents and gathered with them the information presented in the website.
The different development plans which call for concentration of the Bedouin population in order to designate the evicted lands for roads, military bases and Jewish settlements, draw their legitimacy from the general public’s lack of knowledge and acquaintance with the everyday reality of the villages.
The goal of this site is to expose the real situation on the ground and to refute the prevailing myths about the Negev, such as the argument that the Bedouin population is dispersed in the Negev and do not live in distinctive villages.
In our view, making the information available and accessible to the public is another step in the struggle between local knowledge and facts on the ground and the misinformation spread by the authorities. Moreover, it is a big step in the struggle for recognition of the unrecognized villages in the Negev.
Michal Rotem, coordinator of the project, said today: “In my opinion the most important step of the site is putting the Bedouin villages on the map. Not just a map but an interactive one which enables the users to click on each village and see for themselves the information the residents of the village chose to show. The authorities talk constantly on the ‘Bedouin dispersion’ while the site refutes this argument by exposing the villages that the authorities wish to hide. Writing the local story of each village, together with its residents, build local and cooperative knowledge, alternative to the information usually accessible to the public”.
The launching event will take place on 26 March 2014 at 5 pm in the Multaka-Mifgash, 7 Shlomo Hamelech St., Beer Sheva. The event will include presentation of the site, meeting with the residents who took part in the project and an open discussion on the status of the Bedouin unrecognized villages in the Negev.
Michal Rotem – +972-545-851700 – Michal@dukium.org
Between Discrimination and Abandonment: The Bedouin Recognized Villages and the Jewish Settlements in the Negev
On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (21 March), Negev Coexistence Forum and Activestills publish a photo report that compares between the Bedouin Recognized Villages and the Jewish Settlements in the Negev. The report reveals that while tens of thousands of housing units are planned to be built in Jewish settlements, within the Bedouin villages that were recognized by the state, the denial of building permits continues, as well as the house demolitions policy.
In 2003, when the first Bedouin regional council of Abu Basma was established by the Israeli Government, seven Bedouin villages that were recognized by the state, were brought under the council’s jurisdiction. Until 2006, another four villages gained recognition. At the same period, five Jewish settlements were established and resettled, another four are under advanced planning and establishment stages, and at least twelve more settlement are planned to be built.
The photo report, issued by Activestills and NCF, exposes the fact that more than a decade after the recognition of the Bedouin villages, the changes on the ground are sparse. Out of eleven villages, ten are not connected to the national electricity grid and the sewage system, and in order to connect houses to the state’s water pipes, residents must lay pipes on their own expense from a central water station at the entrance to their village. In addition, the majority of the village does not enjoy a full service of garbage disposal, paved roads are to be find only in one village, and in villages with thousands of residents, only one clinic is available. Though many schools were established in the villages over the last couple of years, the shortage of classes is noticeable, and some of the pupils are still transported every morning to high schools in governmental planned Bedouin towns.
Furthermore, building permits in the Bedouin villages are almost not issued at all. Besides Tarabin A-Sana, where many building permits were issued, in Abu Krinat (pop; 1800), recognized in 2003, only three permits have so far been issued, in A-Sayyed (pop; 4000), recognized in 2006, only one permit has been issued. In the other eight villages no permits were issued since their recognition. Years after recognition was granted by the government, the planning authorities does not allow construction in the recognized villages. Although population growth, the residents of the villages are not able to build new houses in their villages. Therefore, new houses that are being built with no permits and houses that are being renovated are declared by the authorities as illegal, and subjected to the house demolition policy of the state, that threaten to impose the demolition costs on its dwellers.
On the contrary, Jewish settlements that are being built in the Negev enjoy the variety of services and infrastructures that the goverment provides. Tens of thousands of housing units are planned, expansions are planned for existing settlements, and new settlements are planned to be established. Furthermore, even illegal settlements and farms are regularized retrospectively. The house demolition policy is not implemented toward the Jewish population in the Negev, it is reserved only for the Bedouin villages.
On the international day for the elimination of racial discrimination 2014, the comparison between the Bedouin recognized villages and the new Jewish settlements exposes the discrimination pertains among these communities. The Israeli Government should act immediately: establish infrastructures in the villages, expand the governmental services provided, and cease the house demolitions while issuing building permits for its citizens resident there. It is inconceivable that the government is involved with the establishment of tens of thousands of new housing units in Jewish settlement as part of a variety of additional plans that aims to move Jewish populations to the Negev area, while Bedouin citizens of the state that reside in the area for years are not provided with extremely basic services like running water and electricity.
Update from the Negev-Naqab
This has been a relatively quiet time in the Negev since arrests, demolitions and demonstrations are a way of life here.
The Revolving Door Syndrome: liberation and re-arrest
To start with some “good news” in January, the charges of one of the indictments against Aziz abu Mdigam and Haia Noach our Executive Director, that have been pending for two years, were finally dropped altogether. Rejoicing was short lived however because on 23rd January Al Arakib was destroyed once again and Eid abu Mdigam was arrested although released after 24 hours. Subsequently, both Aziz Abu Mdigam and Haia Noach were summoned by the police for questioning and Aziz was arrested, held for 48 hours and has been conditionally released, confined to the cemetery area in the eastern part of Al Arakib, and is thus cut off from the village diwan across the wadi in the west.
Solidarity with Al Arakib
On 18th January a protest march on behalf of Al Arakib was held in Rahat, with some 250 participants, followed by a meeting in Al Arakib with hundreds of people from elsewhere in Israel coming to demonstrate their solidarity. Al Arakib residents prepared a large celebrationing honor of the Naqab detainees from the “Days of Rage" demonstrations. In spite of the difficult conditions prevailing in the village, residents offered traditional hospitality to the hundreds of people who came to the ceremony. Sheikh Al Turi welcomed the guests and expressed his appreciation of their encouragement and support.
The weekly vigil for Al Arakib continues at 16:00 every Sunday at the Rahat-Lahavim Crossroads, between Be’er-Sheva and Rahat.
Justice, Justice shall you pursue?
On January 21st the Israeli Supreme Court discussed the State's objections to Al Arakib residents' appeals against land confiscation in the District Court.
The hearing took place before an expanded tribunal of seven Judges: Supreme Court President Asher Gronis, and judges Barak-Erez, Danziger, Rubinstein, Naor, Nator and Amit. The State demanded the suspension of hearings at the District Courts regarding Bedouin land confiscations according to Land Acquisition law (1953), on the grounds that these appeals overload the legal system and it has to be brought to the High Court of Justice! The draconian Land Acquisition law (1953) has already accounted for the confiscation of 1,250,000 dunams (308,000 acres) from Arab citizens of Israel.
However it seems that the State's chances of success are low in this case. The residents of Al Arakib were represented by Attorney Michael Sfard.
Negev Coexistence Forum (dukium.org)
Dukium: "Al Arakib: A background paper about the summer of demolitions"
Dukium nach der 6. Zerstörung im Oktober: ergänzt (Anfang Nov. noch nicht im Internet)
Haaretz: Reclaiming the desert (27.8.10)
The Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages in the Negev (RCUV), Website seit 2008 nur unvollständig betreut.
Videos der Zerstörungsaktionen: youtube, 10.8.10 ; youtube, 14.9.10