State wins judgment against Beduin for repeated removals from al-Arakib

The government has tried for years to get Beduin groups to live in state-planned communities.

A VIEW of Umm Al-Hiran, the Beduin village in the southern Negev Desert demolished by police (photo credit: REUTERS)
A VIEW of Umm Al-Hiran, the Beduin village in the southern Negev Desert demolished by police
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The state was awarded a NIS 386,406 judgment from the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court against a group of six Beduin for the cost of repeatedly removing them from al-Arakib, a disputed area near the southern city.
There is an ongoing fight between the state and groups of Beduin in the South over the state’s desire to get the Beduin to live in more set, city-styled areas in order to make room to build towns where Jews are mostly expected to move – though the towns would be open.
This judgment is seen by supporters of the new towns as the state standing up for law and order, while it is viewed by the Beduin as penalizing them for trying to rebuild on their land after the state wrongfully evicted them.
The state has demolished al-Arakib more than 100 times with the Beduin rebuilding it each time.
The Justice Ministry Civil Division first announced the judgment on Wednesday though the decision was handed down last week.
Originally, the state sued 34 Beduin for NIS 1.7 million for eight instances in which they rebuilt al-Arakib in 2010 leading to the state paying for demolishing it.
Eventually, it settled with 26 of the Beduin for a payment of NIS 300,000. Two other Beduin died during the proceedings and the six remaining Beduin went through a full trial with the state.
Essentially, the court sided with the state on most issues, including that the Beduin claims had been rejected by the courts. This meant the Beduin had no right to build on the land and any cost the state put out for removing their rebuilding could be attributable to them.
The court said “it is important to remember that costs were not attributed to the defendants caused by one-time infiltrations since in our case... The defendants trespassed on the land dozens of times.”
Joint List MK Yosef Jabareen said the decision was “harsh and outrageous,” noting the effect is that the state has “both destroyed the houses of the residents and obligated them in the costs of that destruction.”
He said that international conventions required recognizing the Beduin rights to al-Arakib and that the government is carrying out a policy to move Beduin villages to make room for Jewish villages.