Boys, residents of Umm Al-Hiran, a Beduin village not recognized by the Israeli government, protest against the building of a Jewish community on the land of Umm Al-Hiran.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Police entered the unrecognized Negev village of Umm al-Hiran on Monday to prepare for the possible eviction of 12 families as part of an effort to clear the area for the construction of a Jewish town and the planting of a forest.
Eviction notices were recently distributed as part of a bid to force village residents to relocate to the nearby township of Hura. The notices specify that the removals are to take place between January 15 and 31.
Umm al-Hiran resident Raed Abu al-Kaeean said some 50 policemen from the Yoav Unit came to the village. “Police told me they came to prepare for eviction and demolition,” he said.
Nava Dihi, police spokeswoman of the Negev sub-district, confirmed the police activity in Umm al-Hiran. “They came to the area to inspect the buildings and prepare for future action,” she said. Dihi did not specify when that action would take place.
Yossi Maimon, assistant to the director of the authority for the settlement and development of the Beduin, told The Jerusalem Post
on Sunday that the state is pressing for all the approximately 400 residents of the village to relocate to Hura.
It is the second time residents are being forced to relocate. In 1956, they were moved under military order and resettled by the IDF in their current location after being evicted from the land on which they were living in 1948. But they were never given a title to the land.
A 2015 Supreme Court ruling found that the land belongs to the state and rejected a petition by residents against their eviction.
Maimon said the state would implement the court decision and ensure all Umm al-Hiran residents move to Hura, whether through negotiation or demolitions.
Residents said they do not want to move to Hura because it has poor infrastructure, because Hura residents have made clear that they don’t want them to move in, and because they have not received any written guarantees that their living conditions there would be anything close to what they currently have.
Umm al-Hiran residents stress that they need land to maintain their agricultural way of life, including sheep herding. Maimon said they are being offered options that will enable them to do so.
Atwa Abu al-Kaeean, 62, who received an eviction notice last week, said the police entry into Umm al-Hiran on Monday was part of an effort to force residents to agree to move to Hura. He said that after the police came, he received a call from a staffer from the authority for the settlement and development of the Beduin pressuring him to sign an agreement to relocate.
MK Akram Hasson (Kulanu) on Monday called on authorities to stop pressuring Umm al-Hiran residents to leave. “It’s inhumane and it doesn’t help us at all,” he said. “Every citizen whose home you destroy you automatically turn into an enemy of the State of Israel. The moment you destroy, you are also destroying the social fabric between Arabs and Jews. The Beduin who serve in the army deserve fair treatment, development of their villages, economic improvements and quality of life. Solutions need to be found through understanding and with responsible negotiations. Pressure on them will only lead to hatred and alienation.”Eliyahu Kamisher contributed to this report.