(Haifa) - The District Court in Bir el-Sabe (Beersheva) heard arguments on Monday, 15 October 2012 on the state’s appeal against the magistrates’ court’s decision to cancel all 51 demolition orders issued against every house in the unrecognized Arab Bedouin village of Alsira in the Naqab (Negev), in the presence of dozens of people from the village. Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara represented the families from Alsira, and demanded that the court refuse to reconsider the prior decision. Attorney Bishara argued that the implementation of the demolition orders in Alsira would leave more than 400 people homeless. She emphasized that the people of the village had lived on their land since before Israel’s establishment, and that the state had failed to provide any alternative housing solution for the families.
The State Prosecutor argued that the homes in Alsira had been built without permits, and that the land on which the village stood had been designated as a national industrial zone. The court ordered the state to explain whether there were alternative housing solutions for the families before 3 December 2012 in the event that the demolition orders were approved.
The Kiryat Gat Magistrates’ Court ordered the cancellation of all 51 demolition orders in December 2011. It was the first time in history that an Israeli judge cancelled demolition orders against an unrecognized Bedouin village in the Naqab. The decision came in response to a petition filed by Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara in 2007 to cancel the orders.
The 70 Arab Bedouin families of Alsira, citizens of Israel, have lived on their ancestral land in Alsira for at least seven generations. The villagers, whose land claims were recognized by the British Mandate, also filed land claims in the 1970s, in accordance with the Israeli Land Registration Ordinance. Nonetheless, the state views them as trespassers illegally squatting on state land, and is trying to evict them. In 2006, villagers began receiving notices of home demolitions and immediately contacted state authorities. However, the state did not propose any alternative solution or accept solutions suggested by the villagers.
For more information, please contact Adalah Media Coordinator Salah Mohsen: firstname.lastname@example.org, 052-5950922