If enacted, Israel will force 350 Palestinians into homelessness.
Israeli police arrived in the village on 21 March and posted eviction notices on homes and the village’s mosque, stating that demolition will take place between 15 and 29 April.
Two Israeli government organizations, the National Planning and Building Council and the Bedouin resettlement authority in the Negev, are pushing to strike a deal with community members by allocating them a share of the land. But community leaders said that no agreement has been made with either Israeli body.
The documents, which include the association bylaws of the planned “Hiran” settlement, state that only “a Jewish Israeli citizen or permanent resident of Israel who observes the Torah and commandments according to Orthodox Jewish values” will be permitted to live there.
The documents add that residents must be approved by an admissions committee.
This discrimination is in direct contradiction to Israel’s 2015 high court rule that the planned settlement will not prevent anyone from living there, including Palestinian Bedouins, according to Adalah.
Constant harassment and demolitions
Umm al-Hiran is one of many communities in the Naqab that lie unrecognized by Israel and are consequently deprived of basic services and infrastructure.
This is not the first time Umm al-Hiran’s villagers have been forcibly transferred. Prior to the Nakba – the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Zionist militias – the community originally lived nearby. They were forcibly displaced to their current location in 1956.
Umm al-Hiran has undergone persistent harassment and lived under constant threat of demolitions in recent years, forcing many families “to sign transfer agreements and to leave their village,” Adalah reports.
The families were uprooted from Umm al-Hiran and promised decent alternatives. However, they now live in “dangerous temporary structures without even the most minimal living conditions” and without basic access to water, electricity and sewage infrastructure, Adalah attorneys wrote in an urgent letter to Israeli authorities demanding them to postpone the demolition.
The head of the Popular Committee of Umm al-Hiran, Raed Abu al-Qiyan, called on Palestinian leaders in Israel and media outlets to stand with the community in its struggle for recognition.
“Umm al-Hiran needs you,” Raed told the publication Arab48. “The Israeli police and all the government bodies associated with it have been targeting us for a while, with continuous daily attempts to change our position in Umm al-Hiran.”
Israel’s demolitions of Bedouin structures has doubled in 2017, with 2,220 structures demolished compared to 1,158 in 2016, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Approximately 70 percent of the 2017 demolitions were undertaken by the owners themselves, who are otherwise threatened with heavy fines. Israel sees this as a “positive trend” that avoids confrontation with these communities, according to Haaretz.