Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Illegally Demolishing Their Homes and Villages
By Stephen Lendman
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, November 22, 2010
In October, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights
in Israel, together with nine other human rights organizations, addressed
a position paper on "The unconstitutionality of the state's policy of
demolishing Arab Bedouin unrecognized villages in the Negev" to three
-- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
-- Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, and
-- Minister of Justice
Citing the illegality of home demolitions, in this
case of Arab Israeli citizens, they urged halting them immediately and
finding a durable solution for unrecognized village residents. In Salim
Abu- Medeghem v. The Israel Land Administration (April 14, 2007), Israel's
High Court proposed replacing demolitions with solutions based on
dialogue, Justice Arbel ruling:
"....the difficult reality the
Bedouin population faces in the State of Israel requires a systemic,
complete and comprehensive solution, and the sooner the better...The time
has come to formulate and implement a truly comprehensive solution to this
An earlier article addressed this issue, accessed
through the following link:
It explained that Israeli Arabs live mainly in all-Arab towns and
villages in three heartlands - the Galilee in the north; what's called the
"Little Triangle" in the center along the Israeli side of the Green Line;
and the Negev in the south.
Up to 150,000 Bedouin Arabs, Israeli
citizens, live in so-called "unrecognized villages," mainly in the Galilee
and Negev. They're unrecognized because their residents are considered
internal refugees, forced from their homes during Israel's War of
Independence and prevented from returning. Thereafter, they've been
relentlessly mistreated, including by repressive zoning restrictions,
prohibiting construction, agriculture, and other legal rights.
They're also been denied essential services, including water, electricity,
roads, transport, sanitation, education, healthcare, postal and telephone
service, refuse removal and more because under Israel's Planning and
Construction Law they're illegal. More recently, stepped up efforts to
demolish their homes and villages are dispossessing them, making way for
Jewish development, much like what's ongoing throughout the West Bank and
Adalah and the other human rights organizations
want it stopped. Negev Bedouins number around 80,000. After earlier
concentrating them in the desert's eastern portion, a policy of reducing
their living space began in the 1990s. Today, Israel wants to remove as
many as possible, disregarding their basic rights.
Israeli master plans completely ignored the unrecognized villages, denying
their residents rights afforded Jews. The ongoing injustice continues
relentlessly, today pursuing a policy of destroying entire villages,
forcible displacements then following.
Examples include Al-Araqib.
On July 27, 2010, at 4:30AM, the whole village was razed, its 45 homes
demolished, illegal force used against men, women and children. Without
warning, police stormed the village, wearing face masks and no IDs. Income
Tax Authority representatives came with them, lawlessly seizing assets,
purportedly to cover unverified debts.
The episode was appalling,
leaving residents traumatized, their homes razed in front of their eyes,
their possessions seized, and no alternative housing provided. After
rebuilding four times, authorities again destroyed them.
- Atir is home to about 1,100 Bedouins, evacuation and expulsion orders
pending against them on grounds of trespassing. As a result, many village
homes got demolition orders. Residents have lived there since 1956 after
members of the Abu al-Qi'an tribe were expelled from Wadi Zuballa (today
part of the Kibbutz Shoval). However, according to various master plans,
part of their village is earmarked for a Jewish town to be called Hiran.
Al-Sura is another example, situated on Al-Nasasra tribe land,
predating Israel's creation. All village houses got demolition orders,
their land to be stolen for industrial development excluding them.
In August 2010, demolitions occurred in Jarabe, Abda, Abu al-Sulab, Al-Shihabi
(Abu Tulul) and Baqurnub. There and in other villages, the practice has
been longstanding. However, 2010 saw a dramatic rise, by early October
destroying over 200 homes, properties and other possessions confiscated.
Moreover, hundreds of olive trees were uprooted and agricultural crops
More information can be found at the Negev Coexistence
Forum's web site, accessed through the following link:
Lawless Disregard for Its Arab Minority
Home demolitions violate
their legal rights to dignity, housing, health and life, mistreatment
Israel Jews don't face. Loss of their homes also violates a Supreme Court
ruling that the right to housing is part of their minimal subsistence.
It's therefore part of their legal right to dignity.
v. Mor (1997), Justice Strasberg-Cohen held that:
is a fundamental constitutional value in our society. No one would dispute
that it is necessary to safeguard a person's dignity even if he has failed
or fallen into debt, and that he should not be left without a roof over
In Ajouri v. Commander of IDF Forces in the West Bank
(2002), the Court held that "A person's home is not only a roof over his
head, but also a means for the physical and social location of the person,
of his private life and social relations."
Moreover, since Bedouin
life is especially harsh, authorities have an added responsibility to
ensure shelter. In Commitment to Peace and Social Justice NGO v. The
Minister of Finance (2005), the Court ruled that dignity included the
right to minimal living conditions to ensure protection for human life. As
such, the state is duty bound to care for those with meager means. Retired
Chief Justice Barak ruled:
"The basic laws protect the right to
dignity, including the aspect of material subsistence required for the
exercise of (this right). From this viewpoint, (that entails) the right to
conduct his normal life as a human being without his distress defeating
him and bringing him to a state of intolerable impoverishment."
International laws also affirm these rights, including the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. ICESCR's Article 11
defines elements to adequate housing to include:
so that obtaining it doesn't jeopardize other essential needs;
a prohibition against discriminatory laws;
-- the right to
-- protection from arbitrary eviction;
accessibility to infrastructure and services, including health, education,
-- the right to choose residency locations; and
-- to live in culturally adaptable housing.
international laws specify rights for women and children, and for
authorities to assure them. Evicting Bedouin Arabs and demolishing the
homes and villages, based on their nationality and religion, clearly
violates their rights under Israeli and international law. Worse still,
it's being done solely for Jewish development, showing contempt for Arab
citizens, violating basic human rights and freedoms.
will replace Umm al-Hieran. Al-Araqib will be demolished for Givot Barr.
In addition, individual Jewish settlements are being approved, some in
violation of planning policy. For example, in July 2010, a Negev
Development Authority Law amendment passed, recognizing Negev Jewish
settlers, master plans for them to follow. As a result, Bedouin rights
will be trashed, fundamental laws violated, even though as Dr. Sandy Kedar
Negev Bedouins are a recognized indigenous minority,
their historical existence and presence predating Israel's existence.
Their land and property rights are indisputable. Israel's Basic Law
affirms them, requiring authorities to protect them as well as other basic
Israel's Or Commission, established in October 2000,
recommended that Bedouin villages be recognized and developed, saying:
"The land conflict has existed since the first days of the
state....The Arab public strongly supports and identifies with the
Bedouin's stance." Though Israeli citizens, their "villages are not
recognized (and) have not been provided with infrastructure and
services....The vast majority of residents of the unrecognized villages
were required to move to a number of central towns that were planned for
them....Several public associations have formed to" protect them." They
deserve equitable conflict resolution.
In 2007, Israel's Housing
and Construction minister appointed the Goldberg Committee to resolve this
issue. On November 11, 2008, the Committee recommended that all Negev
Bedouin villages be recognized. In addition, Bedouin citizens should be
granted land ownership rights.
On January 18, 2009, authorities
then approved Decision No. 4411, deciding that it "regards the outline
proposed by the committee as a basis for resolving the settlement of the
Bedouin in the Negev." Then, in June 2010, the "Investigator's
Recommendations Regarding the Objections to District Master Plan 23-1404 -
A Partial District Master Plan for the Beersheva Metropolitan Area" was
published. It also recommended recognition.
In July 2010, the UN
Human Rights Committee (HRC) issued its "Concluding Observations" on
Israel's third periodic report, expressing concern about home demolitions
and forced evictions. HRC called on Israel to respect Bedouin rights to
their land and agricultural livelihoods on it.
The UN CERD
Committee, responsible for monitoring the state's implementation of the
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination expressed concern in June 2007 over Israeli violations,
saying Bedouin village and land rights must be recognized.
2005, the UN CEDAW Committee, responsible for monitoring states'
implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination Against Women expressed outrage over how Bedouin
women were being treated.
In 2002, the UN CAT Committee,
responsible for monitoring the state's implementation of the International
Convention Against Torture (CAT), determined that Israel's home demolition
and displacement policy constituted, in some cases, cruel, inhuman and
degrading punishment, violating the statute.
Sawsan Zaher asked the above addressed officials to halt their aggressive
policies, replacing them with constructive dialogue for acceptable
solutions. International and Israeli law demand it. As in the past on all
Jewish/Muslim issues, they were unresponsive. As a result, Israeli
lawlessness continues relentlessly, the rule of law a non-starter, Bedouin
Arab citizens victimized like other Israeli Arabs and Occupied
Palestinians, justice for them still denied.
Stephen Lendman lives
in Chicago and can be reached at
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to
cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive
Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US
Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived
for easy listening.
Ethnically Cleansing East Jerusalem
By Stephen Lendman
Jerusalem is the epicenter of a decades long struggle. For Jews,
it's politically important as their capital, a national and religious
center, as well as symbolic of Judaism's revival and prominence. For
Christians, it's where Jesus lived and died, and for Muslims, it's their
third holiest site (the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa
Mosque) after Mecca's Sacred Mosque and the Mosque of the Prophet in
In June 1967, Israel occupied the city. On July 30, 1980,
the Knesset introduced the Jerusalem Law, officially annexing it as
Israel's unified capital. However, on March 1, 1980, UN Security Council
Resolution 465 declared that:
"all measures taken by Israel to
change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional
structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied
since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal
validity and that Israel's policy and practices of settling parts of its
population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant
(Fourth Geneva) violation....and also constitute a serious obstruction to
achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East."
On July 4, 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICC) ruled that
"Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territory, including East Jerusalem,
are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to economic and social
development (and) have been established in breach of international law."
However, nothing thereafter changed. Settlements expanded
exponentially, including on stolen East Jerusalem land. Israel plans to
Judaize it by replacing Arabs with Jews, law or no law, because unenforced
ones are meaningless.
On November 7, Haaretz writer Nir Hasson
headlined, "Full Haaretz expose/How the state helped right-wing groups
settle East Jerusalem," saying:
Israel "used a controversial law
to transfer East Jerusalem assets to the rightist organizations Elad and
Ateret Cohanim without a tender, and at very low prices."
Elad settled 500 Jews in 15 Silwan sites. Ateret Cohanim brought 60 Jewish
families and hundreds of yeshiva students to the Old City's Muslim
Quarter, an area they're determined to control.
In support, Israel
transferred hundreds of assets to them, as well as millions of shekels for
security, including surveillance cameras and fences that separate settlers
from Palestinians. Authorities also licensed Elad to manage the historic
City of David tourist site.
In 1992, the Knesset passed a law
requiring all state agencies to hold public tenders on which any citizen
may bid, with certain defined exemptions, including expanding agricultural
areas and promoting tourism. However, Elad and Ateret Cohahim were
"exempted from tender" for all 11 assets they got, authorities abusing the
1950 Absentee Property Law to do it.
It pertains to persons "who,
at any time during the period between (November 29, 1947) and (May 19,
1948) ceased to exist," and no longer owned Israeli property legally.
However, at least for some of the 11 seized assets, owners live in the
West Bank, "which is not under the jurisdiction of Israeli law."
Attorney Shlomo Lecker, involved in one of the cases, said: "These are not
people who moved to an enemy country. Instead, these are cases in which
we've decided to annex property without annexing the people who left it.
Thus, two attorneys general recommended that this law not be applied to
Haaretz's full expose can be accessed through the
Ethnically Cleaning Silwan
Silwan is an Arab village adjacent
to Jerusalem's Old City, extending along the Kidron Valley alongside the
eastern slopes of Jabal al-Mukaber, another Arab community. Home to about
45,000 people, it's one of 28 Palestinian villages incorporated into East
Jerusalem. For years, settler encroachment fueled controversy and
conflict. So does the area's historical importance, archeology used for
displacement to legitimize Jewish claims.
already claimed large tracts of Silwan land. The militant right-wing
settler group Elad, funded largely by US donors, controls them. Its web
site tells its own version of history. It also conducts tours to convince
visitors of its Jewish origin.
For their part, Palestinians are
contesting, explaining their important history. Different versions fuel
conflict, Haaretz writers Nir Hasson and Jonathan Lis, on October 12
headlining, "Life in Silwan: Unbearable for Jews and Palestinians alike,"
"The pattern of Jewish settlement (there) is unlike
anywhere else, with some 70 Jewish families (around 500 people) in 15
locations, islands among tens of thousands of Palestinians. The resulting
friction requires the presence of dozens of security guards and
Palestinians complain about their presence
and heavy-handed police tactics. The Association of Civil Rights in Israel
said settlers carry weapons, Jewish/Arab relations thus tense over
shootings, deaths and arrests. Moreover, Palestinian homes are being
demolished for planned parks, open spaces, restaurants, boutique hotels,
and Jewish-only housing.
Al-Bustan is a Silwan neighborhood,
across from the Jerusalem's Old City. Home to about 1,500 residents,
they're threatened with displacement, the Municipality of Jerusalem
claiming no permits were issued to build in areas designated for open
space and a archeological park.
On February 22, 2009, they were
ordered out in 72 hours to make way for expanding Israel's City of David
archeological site, a Jewish heritage project involving removing
Palestinians whose history goes back centuries. Residents contested their
right to stay, the Al Bustan Popular Committee (BPC) working with lawyers
in Israeli courts. Nonetheless, demolition orders are issued and in other
city neighborhoods, part of Israel's systematic Judaization process.
In October, police posted notices on five Al-Bustan homes, calling them
illegal and subject to demolition. In addition, BPC's leader, Fakhri Abu
Diab, said "a large force of Israeli border guards ransacked the area,
using homes as vantage points to fire tear gas canisters, stun grenades,
and rubber bullets in all directions" after protests broke out.
Many Silwan homes have been demolished, many more threatened. Moreover,
residents are regularly attacked, prompting protests and clashes. B'Tselem
explained that East Jerusalem Palestinians face discriminatory housing and
construction policies, forcing them to build without permits (on their own
land), thereby subjecting them to demolitions. Protests, violence and
arrests follow, children affected like adults.
On October 25,
Palestine Monitor writer Charlotte Silver headlined, "Children The New
Target In Silwan Ethnic Cleansing Campaign," saying:
"Jerusalem police and security forces have filled the streets of Silwan....patrolling
(them) on foot and in cars. This past week alone," 23 residents were
arrested, including at least six children, aged eight to 12. The charges
are always the same - stone throwing, whether or not true. Yet they're
arrested, detained, beaten, terrorized and tortured like adults. In some
cases, serious injuries result, requiring hospitalization.
for Children International/Palestine (DCI) Section Report
October, DCI issued a Detention Bulletin headlined, "Mass arrests in
Silwan, East Jerusalem," saying:
Information on the arrest of 17
Silwan children was collected, "although lawyers and fieldworkers for
DCI-Palestine estimate that the overall number of children arrested....in
October is considerably higher."
In recent weeks, confrontations
between Palestinians and settlers, their private security guards, and
police escalated. Further tensions erupted over plans to displace Al-Bustan
residents for a recreation park. Children are always affected. Hundreds
are arrested annually, some as young as or younger than 12. Nearly always
it's for stone throwing, yet they're detained in violation of Fourth
Geneva's Article 76, requiring minors be given special treatment, besides
other provisions to safeguard protected persons.
In October, 256
children were arrested, aged 12 - 15. Prosecutions and detentions usually
follow. Bara' R., aged 13, is typical. On October 13, he was arrested in
Silwan for throwing stones.
"At around 5:00PM, (he) was standing
in front of his sister's house with some friends when they were attacked
by 10 men in plain clothes, who were apparently Israeli security forces.
(He) then reports being dragged into a nearby mosque by the men. (They)
started firing weapons and tear gas at people outside the mosque. Baha's
hand were tied behind his back and his shirt was pulled up over his eyes
to prevent him from seeing."
"A short time later, (he) was put in
an Israeli military vehicle and kicked and slapped." He was then
transferred to Al Mascobiyya interrogation center in Jerusalem for
questioning. Baha confessed "because I was so terrified because they beat
me when they arrested me and because I was alone in the interrogation
He was luckier than others. At 11:00PM, he was released and
fined 5,000 shekels, about $1,400, a huge sum for poor Palestinians,
perhaps too much to pay, meaning their property or possessions may be
DCI/Palestine covered several other arrests. In all
cases, children were accused of stone throwing. Their hands were painfully
shackled behind their backs. They were dragged, beaten, forced to confess
and sign documents in Hebrew, denied food, water and toilet privileges for
long periods, and overall terrorized during interrogations. Some were
fined and released, others detained.
On October 15, police and
Silwan residents clashed. About 15 Palestinians were injured, including
one child. Most were struck by rubber-coated bullets, able to cause
injuries and at times kill.
"According to local sources, the
confrontations took place after Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters at
worshippers" during prayer time. Residents threw rocks in response. "In a
related incident, Israeli border police officers physically assaulted and
injured a man at a flying checkpoint erected at one of Silwan's
entrances." He was taking his son to the hospital, suffering from pepper
On October 23, DCI/Palestine sent a 14 page
report to the EU Subcommittee on Human Rights on how Palestinian children
are treated in detention. It highlighted "the continued use of
ill-treatment and torture during the arrest and interrogation" process.
Other information included:
-- international law violations;
-- evidence that over 42% of children are held with adults;
-- over half receive inadequate food, water and shelter;
are denied family visits during the first three months of detention;
-- telephone privileges are prohibited; and
-- most are subjected
to torture and other forms of abuse.
A Final Comment
Israel's long range Jerusalem plan is total Judaization, making the city
its exclusive capital, denying the Palestinians rightful claim to its
eastern portion for its own. As a result, ethnic cleansing systematically
continues, villages like Silwan targeted by home demolitions,
dispossessions, and assaults against residents defending their land and
In some ways they do it creatively. In 2008 for example,
when 88 houses were ordered demolished for a City of David archeological
park, residents erected a large tent for prayer, meetings, children's
activities, and community events. In October, Jimmy Carter met with
village leaders in it. Last year, the Wadi Hilwah Information Center was
established to counter settler propaganda with its own historical
Determined, sustained, organized resistance is the best
antidote to repression and injustice, what Palestinians have heroically
done for decades, including the men, women, and children of Silwan.
In her August 18, 2010 Palestine Monitor article, Elena Hogan's title
described it metaphorically headlining, "When David Becomes Goliath." In
fact, long struggles at times end that way. Why not in Silwan, in East
Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, occupation-free self-determination an
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at
sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with
distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive
Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays
at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.