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Photo essay: Galilee Bedouin face house demolitions

 

Houses of the Bedouin family of Khawalid threatened to be demolished by the Israeli administration, October 27, 2012. Seen in the distance, the houses of the Bedouin village of Khawalid, which was recognized as a permanent village in 1992. (photo: SG/Activestills.org)

The little piece of land that the Khawaled family lives in is located east to Yagor-Somech road on one side, and just down from the “Israel Trail” on the other. Many travelers knew the family’s hospitality when they literally passed through their back yard traveling that trail on a Saturday morning.

The Bedouin tribe of Khawaled, which Ali’s family belongs to, has lived there since 1945. Only in 1992, then-Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri recognized it as a permanent village and it was slowly connected to electricity and sewage infrastructure. Later the district of Zvulun granted it permission to expand up to 240 dunams–a very small amount of land for the growing village–that had already reached 400 people. This regional plan does not leave a single inch of land left for development in the next 20 years.

The Bedouin family of Khawalid in their home awaiting demolition, after receiving demolition warrants for four houses on their property, seen on October 27, 2012. The Israeli administration has issued the warrants, announcing that the lands are bordering with an area planned to be a national park. (photo: SG/Activestills.org)

Ali’s house, as well as his sister’s and his son’s houses, were left out of the first district plan, despite the fact that they are located only a few hundred meters from the current village’s border. Although they pay property tax, they don’t have sewage infrastructure, and in 2007 they received demolition warrants. They told the court that their houses have been standing before 1945. The court ruled against the demolition, but put a restriction on any further development on the their land.

However, that same verdict included a small paragraph which said that if the house were to be included in public territory, then there would be a renewed discussion. And not surprisingly, during 2009, the Israel Land Administration presented a plan to turn the area into a national park. After the family’s appeal, the court ruled in favor of demolition within two years, without any compensation to the family.

Houses of the Bedouin family of Khawalid threatened to be demolished by the Israeli administration, October 27, 2012. The Israeli administration has issued demolition warrants for the family after announcing that their lands are bordering with an area planed to be a national park. (photo: SG/Activestills.org)

In the last two weeks the family has received daily visits by different police officers who have announced orally that the family has a week to leave the area and move to the recognized lands of the village of Khawaled. This, despite the fact the national park plans, presented by the Israel Land Administration itself, only pass by their land, and more importantly, the lands are privately owned by the Khawaled family.

So what’s going on? It seems that the Israeli administration has decided to give the northern Bedouin community a hard time too, after abusing the Bedouins in the South for decades. In 2011, houses in the Bedouin village of Zbidat were demolished. During the winter they were rebuilt. One May morning in 2012, all the young men of the village were called in to the police for investigation. When they came back, they found that their houses were demolished in their absence.

The Bedouin family of Khawalid in their home awaiting demolition, after receiving demolition warrants for four houses on their property, seen on October 27, 2012. (photo: SG/Activestills.org)

On September 4, 2012, the authorities came to demolish a house in the village of Bir El-Maksur. Almost all the young Bedouins of Bir El-Maksur serve the IDF. On the house about to be demolished was an Israeli flag–soon to be brought down in the riot that broke out. Today, there is a Palestinian flag on the top of the new house that was rebuilt. Was this the purpose of this operation? What’s the big plan of the Israeli goverment? Is there one?

Today, October 28, there was another discussion in a Haifa court in the case of the Khawaled family. The family asked the court to delay the demolition warrants. The judge answered that there is no basis for holding back, and asked the district representative why the warrants were not carried out already.

After a long discussion–throughout which the family was supported by activists from Tarabut Movement–the judge decided to give a three-week delay. This might enable the family to achieve the warrant’s dismissal, to which the main key lies in the hands of the head of Zvulun Council. If he asks the Minister of Interior for an expansion of Khawaled village borders, he can stop the demolition. It is quite clear that in 20 years time the village will expand and reach the family’s land. Why destroy the life of a family who just asks to hold on to what is rightfully theirs?

Text by Uri Shani.

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    COMMENTS

    1. “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

      Fifth Amendment, U.S. Constitution

      “the court ruled in favor of demolition within two years, without any compensation to the family. … the lands are privately owned by the Khawaled family” : These are Israeli citizens. The Government, empowered by the Knesset, simply implicitly asserts these citizens have to right to just compensation. That is, as applied, rights are at the whim of the Knesset. This is a direct consequece of Israel’s failure to establish a written constituion, and shows as well that an “unwritten constitution” can be blind to the fate of minorities not part of the ruling Knesset coaltion. An unwritten constitution is not a constitution for all citizens.

      Reply to Comment
      • above should read “… these citizens have no right to just compensation.”

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          Arabs have 3 parties and some 20 seats, yet Arab MK’s are too busy to help one single family.

          Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          Arabs have 3 parties and some 20 seats, yet Arab MK’s are too busy to help one single family.

          The very representatives of mentioned minorities are doing absolutely nothing, which arouses a question of whether minorities really need any democratic representation…

          Reply to Comment
          • Trespasser: “arouses a question of whether minorities really need any democratic representation…” : minority representation allows such to form coalitions, endure, perhaps later changing the nature of the majority. Rights have nothing to do with minority representation; they are applicable to all, identically, and the purpose is to limit the concept of soverignty itself. What you are saying, most well named person, is that those that do not think like the People have no need of legal standing. Surely hard right Nationalist Torah Ideology. Fascists thought that, Soviets thought that. I don’t.

            Reply to Comment
        • “… these citizens have no right to just compensation.”

          But they’re “citizens”! You said so yourself.

          Reply to Comment
    2. shaun

      “An unwritten constitution is not a constitution for all citizens.”
      Canada, New-Zealand, and Great Britain?

      Reply to Comment
      • Canadian Bill of Rights (1960)
        * Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982)
        * New Zealand Bill of Rights Act (1990)
        * Human Rights Act 1998 (United Kingdom)

        Reply to Comment
      • The UK has the Petition of Right of 1628 and the Magna Carta (first issued in 1215, reissued later in the century slightly modified), both considered foundation in English Law. It also has the Law Lords within the House of Lords which, after the Civil War, effectively became the final judicial body. It also has centuries of common law reports, which are really, really written down–volumously written down; and the jury, ancient of common law, which limits State power as applied. Canada and New Zeland, in so far as they import British common law (and I don’t know how far that is in NZ), import all the above.

        Canada also has the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which, being part of the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982 enacted by the British Parliament, makes it a written constitutional document beyond the Canadian Parliament.

        Israel has the Knesset, which usurped soverignty when the Constituent Assembly, called to write a constitution conforming to the Declaration of Independence, instead transformed itself into false soverignty. An Assembly called to limit soverign power in a written constitution cannot usurp soverignty as an unbridled Parliament. The “constitutional” structure of Israel is nothing like that of the UK, and anologies asserting the contrary are adolescent fantasies.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Wow, this paragraph is good, my sister is analyzing these things, therefore I
      am going to inform her.

      Reply to Comment