An Israeli court has given the go-ahead for the forced eviction of 500 Palestinian Bedouins in the Negev/Naqab region, highlighting the deep discrimination that Palestinian citizens of Israel face under apartheid, Amnesty International said today. In a judgment issued on 27 July, the Beer’sheva District Court said residents of the village of Ras Jrabah must leave their homes, and vacate the lands where their families have lived for decades, by March 2024. They must also pay a fine of 117,000 NIS (approximately 31,700 USD) to cover legal expenses.
The forced evictions are part of the Israeli authorities’ plans to build a new neighbourhood for the city of Dimona, whose inhabitants are mostly Jewish Israelis. Ras Jrabah’s residents will be relocated to an impoverished and segregated Bedouin town nearby.
“This judgment shows how Israel’s deeply discriminatory laws around land and property ownership are used to enforce apartheid against Palestinian citizens of Israel, who are systematically denied the same rights as Jewish Israelis. The clock is ticking for Ras Jrabah’s residents, who have just months to pack up their lives and leave the only homes they have ever known, to make way for the expansion of the Jewish-majority city Dimona. It is yet another attempt by Israeli authorities to minimize the Palestinian presence in the Negev/Naqab, under the guise of development,” said Heba Morayef, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
“This judgment underscores the need to dismantle Israel’s apartheid system, right now. The international community must put pressure on Israeli authorities to scrap these cruel plans, and end their policy of forcibly evicting Palestinians in the Negev/Naqab.”
Like many Palestinian Bedouins in the Negev/Naqab region of southern Israel, Ras Jrabah’s residents have lived in their village for generations – but the Israeli government refuses to recognize it. The Israel Land Authority claims that the presence of the villagers is hindering the expansion of Dimona. This is despite the fact that residents have requested to be integrated into the new neighbourhood – a request which Israeli authorities turned down.
As Adalah, the legal organization representing the residents, notes, the Ras Jrabah eviction plans are part of a broader policy of replacing Bedouin Palestinians with Jewish Israelis in the Negev/Naqab.
According to Adalah, the Bedouin Development and Settlements Authority in the Negev, the Israeli government body responsible for relocating displaced Palestinian Bedouins, has refused to consider the option of integrating Ras Jrabah into Dimona. The Bedouin Authority stated that it is only authorized to offer solutions in Bedouin towns, not Jewish Israeli ones, and that the only option is to relocate Ras Jrabah’s residents to the nearby Bedouin town of Qasr Al Sir.
Ras Jrabah covers about 84 acres of lands belonging to the Al-Hawashleh tribe, and its residents have lived there since before Dimona was established. Amnesty International’s 2022 report on Israel’s apartheid system sets out how discriminatory laws on planning and zoning designed to maximize land and resources for Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians.