Authorities will begin demolishing the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran on Tuesday morning — in order to replace it with a Jewish town.
The Israel Land Authority (ILA) announced on Monday that the demolition of Umm al-Hiran, an unrecognized Bedouin village in southern Israel, would begin the next day, following a 13-year legal struggle. The state plans to build a Jewish town atop the remains of the Bedouin village.
Following the announcement, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel filed a last-minute request with the Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court to freeze the demolition process, which was rejected. According to Adalah, the ILA announced that it has hired a private contractor to carry out the demolition at the cost of NIS 119,000 (approximately $30,760).
Umm al-Hiran’s residents are reporting that police forces have already arrived at the village in preparation for Tuesday’s demolitions, and are calling on activists from across the country to make their way to the village in order to gear up for the demolition. Joint List head Ayman Odeh announced on Monday evening that he would be spending the night in the village, also calling on Israelis to join him to prevent “devastation and destruction.”
[Update, Tuesday 11:15 a.m.: Police temporary postpone the demolition, after activists and members of Knesset spent the night in the village]
The announcement comes more than a year and a half after Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled by a 2-1 majority to authorize the state’s plan to demolish Umm al-Hiran, displacing hundreds of residents for the sole purpose of establishing a new Jewish town named “Hiran” over its ruins.
The future residents of Hiran, who are tied to the West Bank settlement of Susya, are currently living in caravans in an encampment in the adjacent Yatir forest. Because the Israeli government refuses to recognize Umm al-Hiran, it has denied its residents water and electricity for decades; meanwhile the future residents of Jewish Hiran have already been provided those services by the state and the Jewish National Fund (JNF).
The residents of Umm al-Hiran were first expelled from their original land in Khirbet Zubaleh under a military government order in 1956. While the High Court has recognized that the residents, who belong to the Abu al-Qian tribe, were not illegal trespassers — as initially claimed by the state — it ruled that because they are now on “state land,”...Read More