Activists slam Israeli court ruling permitting residential demolition in the West Bank

Published May 19th, 2015 - 04:30 GMT

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticized Israel’s Supreme Court for authorizing the demolition of villages in the occupied West Bank and in the Negev desert.

The Israeli high court on May 5 authorized Israeli officials to demolish the tents and houses of 340 residents in Khirbet Susya Village near the city of Hebron (al-Khalil) in the occupied West Bank as well as the dwellings of approximately 1,000 Palestinians living in Umm al-Hiran, a village in the Negev desert.

“It is a sad day when Israeli Supreme Court decisions provide legal cover for forced evictions, as in the case of these two villages,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the executive director of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa Division.

Israeli authorities have deprived the villagers in Umm al-Hiran of basic services such as water, and electricity and have relocated them.

Salim Abu Qiani, a resident of Umm al-Hiran, said in an interview with HRW, “We don’t have a problem living next to anyone but they cannot move us by force to bring new people.”

Approximately 80,000 Bedouins, living in 35 villages in the Negev, are facing miseries similar to that of the villagers in Umm al-Hiran, according to HRW.

Nasar Mahmoud Nawaja, a 33-year-old resident of Susya, also expressed his and other villagers’ opposition to the ruling by the Israeli court.

“We are living in fear, we can’t sleep. [At any moment] they can come to expel us from our land, this is a nightmare,” Nawaja told HRW.
The residents of the two villages had already been displaced once by Israeli officials before the court made the recent decision.

Condemning the move by the Israeli court, Whitson, the HRW official, stressed that the Tel Aviv regime “should let these communities stay where they are, not force them to move yet again.”

“The court decisions in the Umm al-Hiran and Susya cases ignore international law in upholding discriminatory evictions by the Israeli authorities in Israel and the occupied territories,” Whitson said.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israeli authorities have razed to the ground as many as 42 Palestinian-owned structures in Ramallah, al-Quds, Jericho, and al-Khalil since January 20.

This is while, according to international law, the destruction of private or public property in occupied territories is prohibited.

In the Negev desert, Israel has authorized the expulsion of tens of thousands of Bedouin Arabs from where they have lived for generations.

Bedouin villages in the desert frequently come under attack by Israeli forces. More than 150,000 Bedouins live in the occupied Palestinian territories, mostly in and around Negev.

Rights groups have repeatedly called for the Israeli regime to stop the demolition of the homes of the Bedouins.


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