Israeli court issues home demolition orders without presence of affected families

Beer el-Sabe Magistrate Court Orders Freeze of Six Ex Parte Home Demolition Orders in the Unrecognized Arab Bedouin Village of Umm al-Hieran in the Naqab

The ease with which the state obtains ex parte orders for home demolitions from the Beer el-Sabe Magistrate Court, without the presence of the affected families, is a dangerous phenomenon. The state is exploiting legal procedures in order to compel residents of the unrecognized Arab Bedouin villages in the Naqab to evacuate their homes and villages and to relocate to government-planned towns.

Several days before the Eid el-Fitr holiday, Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel living in the unrecognized village of Umm al-Hieran in the Naqab (Negev) learned that the police were preparing to demolish six homes in the village based on a demand by the Interior Ministry’s monitoring unit for building in the south. Representatives of the Abu-Qian family contacted the police and the Interior Ministry in order to obtain details regarding the demolition orders. However, a representative of the Ministry refused to provide any information, claiming that he did not know that they are the owners of the houses.

On 22 October 2006, Adalah, on behalf of the families, filed a motion to the Beer el-Sabe Magistrate Court against the state, demanding a delay in the implementation of the demolition orders as well as their cancellation. Representing the families, Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara argued in the motion that the refusal of the authorities to provide any information to the affected families violates the families’ right to due process and opportunity to be heard.

The information which the families did have indicated that the demolition orders against six houses in Umm al-Hieran were issued ex parte in 2003 and 2005, in accordance with Article 121 of the Planning and Building Law (1965). To obtain these orders, the state claimed before the Court that it could not determine the owners of the homes it planned to demolish. As Adalah argued in the motion, the state’s claims were in fact groundless, as in April 2004, the state filed a lawsuit to evacuate and expel all of the village’s residents. In that lawsuit, the state identified each building and its exact location in the village as well as the names and identity numbers of the individuals living in each house. Thus, as Adalah contended, the state did not act in good faith in obtaining the ex parte home demolition orders.

Attorney Bishara emphasized in the motion that demolishing the residents’ homes in these circumstances would violate their constitutional right to housing, which is a part of the constitutional right to dignity. Moreover, the state’s attempt to make the families homeless constitutes a danger to the lives of these women, men and children, Palestinian Bedouin citizens of Israel.

On 23 October 2006, the Beer el-Sabe Magistrate Court ordered a delay in the implementation of the six demolition orders, with various conditions, including the depositing of NIS 10,000 from each of the petitioners. The Court further decided that the affected families could submit a supplemental motion for the cancellation of the demolition orders within seven days of receipt of the demolition orders from the state.

The Arab Bedouin village of Umm al-Hieran was established in 1956, during the period of the military government. At that time, the village’s residents were required, by way of orders of the military governor, to leave their homes in “Wadi Zuballa” (today, these lands are under the control of Kibbutz Shuval), to their current place of residence in Umm al-Hieran. As noted above, in April 2004, the state filed 27 lawsuits to evacuate and expel all of the residents of the village, approximately 1,500 people. Adalah is representing the residents in these lawsuits, which also remain pending before the Beer el-Sabe Magistrate Court.

Related Links

  • Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
  • BY TOPIC: Palestinians in Israel