Israel said Monday it was demolishing the Palestinian bedouin village Umm al-Hiran in the country’s Negev region in order to build a Jewish town in what many sees as an attempt to cleanse the area of its historic Arab non-Jewish population.
The Israel Land Authority said it would begin the destruction of the village Tuesday with authorities saying the houses had no building permits and thus are not recognized by the Israeli government.
The news comes following a 13-year legal struggle. Israel plans to build a Jewish town on the remains of the Bedouin village.
Following the announcement, Adalah, a legal center that deals with the issues of the 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, said it filed a last-minute request with a court to freeze the demolition process, which was rejected.
“In parallel to the Israeli government's efforts to legalize the Amona settlement in the West Bank — in direct violation of international law and Israeli Supreme Court rulings — the government is moving to demolish a village of Arab Bedouin citizens of the state, without offering them any suitable alternative housing,” the group said in a press release Monday.
“Even though the Supreme Court ruled that residents of Atir-Umm al-Hiran are neither illegal trespassers nor criminals, the state insists on demolishing the village as the sole option."
The Amona settlement is a Jewish settler outpost that is also not recognized by the Israeli state because it is built on Palestinian private land. The Israeli government is pushing a bill that would allow the settlement to be recognized, effectively approving state theft of Palestinian lands, in order to bypass the Supreme court's decision of demolishing it.
The demolition will lead to the displacement of at least 30 people. The village is one of more than 40 villages in the Negev desert that are not recognized by Israel and are slated to be demolished which would lead to the displacement of thousands.
All of these people were moved into these areas by Israel in 1948 after they were kicked out of their original homes and towns to make space for the new Jewish population of the state of Israel.
The residents of these villages, who are Israeli citizens, have been denied basic services from the state such as electricity and water because authorities have long refused to register their homes.