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article imageIsrael sues Negev Bedouin for illegal housing demolition 1.8M NIS

By Sam Halaby     Jul 27, 2011 in World
Jerusalem - The State of Israel is suing 34 Bedouin from the Negev desert for 1.8M Israeli shekels due to expenses related to repeated home evictions and demolitions.
According to a report from Ha’aretz, the Israel Lands Administration (ILA) told the Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court that the Bedouin from the al-Arakib village built homes on state land.
The ILA claim that the two families involved repeatedly ignored court orders to returning to the disputed land, and that they already have homes in nearby Rahat, the world’s largest Bedouin city.
The lawsuit also accuses the defendants of launching a misleading campaign with other individuals and organization, without mentioning the court orders to evacuate the land, according to the Jerusalem Post.
One supporter, Momtaz Khateeb of the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality, told the Jerusalem Post that the state’s decision to sue the Bedouin was not “very wise”. Dr. Awad Abu-Frih, another activist with the al-Arakib campaign, told Ha’aretz that the state of Israel is worried about establishing a precedent.
Both Dr. Abu-Frih and Khateeb slammed the state’s lawsuit, indicating that the defendants should be seeking damages from the state, and not the other way around.
A source in the ILA told Ha’aretz that suing for damages “can be an efficient way to deal with squatters and illegal construction.”
Last year, an article on the UK’s Guardian website shown images of the Israeli police razing the village, accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing”, and “Judaising the Negev region”. However, the state claims that while the demolitions occurred, the state of Israel had actually financially helped with some of the defendants’ homes, contributing to infrastructure, and providing permanent housing to the Negev’s Bedouin.
The village leader said that he had first heard about the lawsuit from the media.
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