The village of Dahmash has been around since 1948, and its residents have the documents to prove it. The authorities, however, have been threatening the unrecognized village with demolition for years. Now residents are taking matters into their own hands and putting together a festival to bring attention to their cause.
By Rami Younis
On Monday, March 16 — a day before the national elections — Israel’s High Court of Justice will hear an appeal by the residents of the unrecognized village Dahmash. The village, located between Ramle and Lyd (“Lod” in Hebrew), is not recognized by any local council. The hearing could set an historic precedent — should the High Court rules in favor of the residents, it will force the state to try and recognize the village, which would prevent home demolitions in the near future. However, if the Court rules against the residents, the threat of demolition will loom larger than ever before.
The unrecognized village Dahmash is under the jurisdiction of the Emek Lod Regional Council, a mere 20 minute drive from Tel Aviv. The village has been around since 1948, and its residents even have proof of ownership in the Israel Land Registry. However, the State does not recognize their claim to the land, and does not provide the village with the necessary infrastructure or even the most basic services, such as sewage, roads, electricity, garbage collection or a post office.
As opposed to the moshavim (a type of cooperative agricultural community) whose agricultural lands have been cleared for construction, the only thing the residents of Dahmash can do with their land is grow tomatoes. Despite the efforts by the residents, which included demonstrations, a lengthy court battle and funding for a master plan — all construction is deemed illegal.
There are currently 16 home demolition orders in the village. The struggle to prevent the destruction has lasted for over a decade, and has been successful due to the support of dedicated activists who supported the villagers over the years. For instance, in 2010, in the wake of a public campaign that included major protests on the main road in Ramle, which included artists and activists, the district court delayed the demolition orders against 13 homes, and gave the residents the opportunity to try and push forward a solution to resolve the status of the village. In the spring of 2014, the state attorney toured...Read More