The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court on Monday calling for a halt to the impending demolition of the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran and the forced eviction of its residents in order to build the new Jewish town of Hiran on its ruins, according to an Adalah press release.
The petition was filed on behalf of Umm al-Hiran residents.
Some three weeks ago, on 21 March, Israeli authorities posted eviction and demolition orders in Umm al-Hiran. The orders indicated that the demolition of the entire village will be carried out at some point between 15 and 29 April.
The demolition of the village will leave its 350 residents, including large numbers of women and children – all citizens of the State of Israel – homeless.
The destruction of Umm al-Hiran “is one of the most severe cases in the legal history of Arab citizens of Israel since 1948,” Adalah attorneys Suhad Bishara and Myssana Morany wrote in the petition.
They wrote also that the demolition of Umm al-Hiran is driven by racist motivations, as it is intended to allow the establishment of the Jewish-only town of Hiran on the ruins of the Bedouin community.
“This policy of segregation based on nationality and/or religion is reminiscent of dark regimes that have passed from the world, such as South Africa during the apartheid era,” Adalah wrote in the petition.
The 2015 Supreme Court ruling on the case does not obligate the state to demolish Umm al-Hiran and evict its residents, Adalah argued. According to the ruling, eviction and demolition is contingent upon the existence of an alternative housing solution. In the absence of such a solution, the eviction of Umm al-Hiran residents must be reconsidered.
Following that Supreme Court ruling, the Southern District Planning and Building Committee released a decision on the issue, specifying that “according to an evaluation conducted by the Authority for the Regulation of Bedouin Settlement, it is not possible from a tribal-clan perspective to settlement the Umm al-Hiran population in other neighborhoods in Hura that have yet to be occupied.
The Israel Land Authority, therefore, has no adequate housing solution for the residents of Umm al-Hiran.
Adalah’s petition stressed that “the fact that the evacuation will be carried out in order to build Hiran – which will be open only to Jews – violates the petitioners’ right to dignity … and treats them as objects that can easily be transferred from place to place on the basis of race.”