Israel court orders 500 Palestinian residents out to build new Israeli neighbourhood

Middle East Monitor  /  July 28, 2023

An Israeli court on Monday ordered 500 Palestinian residents of Ras Jrabah, a village in the Negev (Naqab) that predates the establishment of the state of Israel, to evacuate and demolish their homes to make way for a new Israeli neighbourhood.

Represented by the legal centre, Adalah, the Palestinian villagers had argued that they owned and resided on the land for generations, prior to the 1970 Land Law that registered land and established state-owned real estate.

However, despite their decades of continuous residence in the area, the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court rejected the claim that the Palestinian residents have lawful authority to stay and use the land.

In addition to claiming that the evidence presented by the Palestinian families in court is insufficient and ordering them to evacuate by March 2024, the Israeli Judge Menachem Shahak also ordered them to pay 117,000 shekels ($31,630) in legal charges.

The Israel Land Authority (ILA) has plans to expand the city of Dimona by occupying the village of Ras Jrabah and turning it into a new neighbourhood called “Rotem”.

Judge Shahak also rejected the Palestinian villagers’ request to be integrated into the new neighbourhood, claiming the Israeli Bedouin Development and Settlements Authority in the Negev is the authorized body to make that decision.

However, the Israeli Bedouin Settlement Authority has only offered to relocate them to the town of Qasr al-Sir, which belongs to other Palestinian families.

The court’s approval comes after the ILA failed in its attempt at evacuating the village 30 years ago, reported Haaretz. Palestinian Bedouins in the Negev (Naqab) have faced the threat of forcible displacement for decades, with their land being seized and their homes levelled by Israeli occupation forces.

Adalah condemned the move as a crime of apartheid and argued that displacing the villagers to resettle them in a Bedouin town was part of a strategy of racial segregation.

It said in a statement: “Since the Nakba, the state of Israel has employed a range of tools and policies to forcibly displace the Bedouin residents in the Naqab. Their livelihood has been confined to restricted areas and segregated townships, and they have been subjected to harsh living conditions, with no regard for their basic needs and way of life.”

“This is part of a system of Jewish supremacy that was constitutionally enshrined in the Jewish Nation-State Law, which prioritizes “Jewish settlement” as a value that all state bodies are mandated to promote. Israel’s judicial system approves, time after time, the displacement of Palestinian citizens in favour of Jewish expansions, thereby advancing Israel’s colonial objectives.”

Adalah: ‘The forced displacement of Ras Jrabah’s residents to expand the Jewish city of Dimona, which was built on the residents’ lands, serves as clear evidence that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid against its Palestinian citizens, and urgent international intervention is necessary to halt it’.

The Adalah lawyers will be appealing the judge’s decision.