Court rejects petition to demolish Beduin school

School, build of mud and used car tires, services community of Beduin, most of whose homes are marked for demolition.

Beduin in Israel_311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
Beduin in Israel_311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
The High Court of Justice recently rejected a petition filed by settlers of Kfar Adumim demanding the demolition of a nearby Beduin “tire school.”
The school services a community of Beduin, most of whose homes are marked for eventual demolition, and it is ecologically built of mud and used car tires.
The petitioners had demanded that the court order the IDF to carry out the demolitions in the near future, as opposed to on whatever later date the IDF might theoretically carry them out in the course of following its own procedures.
Although the court recognized the petitioners’ claim that the Beduin community is likely eventually to be demolished, the court declined to intervene and second-guess the IDF on the timing of the demolition.
In fact, the court said that the judicial branch only intervenes in issues such as timing, which are firmly within the IDF’s operational discretion, in the most extenuating circumstances or where the IDF’s delay is so long as to be unjustifiable.
Moreover, as long as the community would be residing in the area, and the IDF has no near-term plans for removing the community, the court said there was no reason to block the community’s access to education by demolishing the school it has been using for years, illegally built or not.
Noting that the IDF expressed an interest in removing the community through a “peaceful process,” the court said that there was no reason for it to attack such an IDF decision.
The court even ironically noted Migron as an example where it gave the IDF and the government significant amounts of time and a wide latitude for delay, as a basis for deferring to the IDF about the timing of the demolitions in this case.
Next, the court added that while the school was technically illegally built, it was not actually directly or immediately impinging on the settlers or anyone else, obviating the need for an immediate demolition.
The Jahalin Association, which defended against the petition, issued a press release saying the school is an “iconic” building and symbol for the area’s Beduin community, and the only permanent structure in the West Bank Beduin village of al-Khan al-Ahmar.
The school is attended by roughly 95 Beduin children (grades 1-7) who are residents of the adjacent hut village al- Khan al-Ahmar, it said. Further, the Jahalin Beduin community has been “residing in the area for over 60 years.”
The initial hearing on the case was September 13, but the court only gave its decision last week.
“The court backed the Civil Administration regarding the displacement of the community,” said Shlomo Lecker, lawyer for the Jahalin. “But for the time being, at least until next year, the demolition orders will not be enforced. In addition, the judges repeatedly urged the IDF to initiate dialogue with the Jahalin community on finding a peaceful planning alternative.”
Al-Khan al-Ahmar spokesman Eid Abu Khamis Jahalin commented: “I am pleased with the Supreme Court and I think its decision is a good one. The judges did not rule in favor of the settlers who were pushing for the immediate demolition of the school.”