Town Built On Ruins Of Bedouin Village To Allow Only Jews In

The town erected over the ruins of a Bedouin village was supposed to be a city open to all citizens, but now, only Jews are being allowed in.

Bedouin stares at members of Israeli forces.

Proving that the Israeli government won't be satisfied until all Palestinian territory has been taken, Israeli officials are now trying to keep non-Jews from entering a settlement being built on the remains of what was once a Bedouin village.

The former Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev desert was allowed to perish in 2013 when the Israeli government gave law enforcement the OK to demolish the Bedouin village, giving the location to two Jewish settlements, which includes what is now the town of Hiran.

At least 1,000 Bedouins lived in the village until early 2017 when the Israeli High Court refused to recognize the residents’ requests to be allowed to stay in their former homes.

Now, the 500 remaining residents are being moved into temporary housing in the nearby town of Hura.

“There is no room for comments any more as we are not talking about racism, but rather, extermination of a 60-year-old town whose residents have been displaced three times,” Raed Abu al-Qean, a member of a local displaced Bedouin committee told reporters at the time.

Still, as Bedouin villagers were fighting for their rights in court, the state declared that Hiran was being “planned as a general community into which any Israeli of any background or religion may integrate.”

Now, officials have changed their tune.

As the demolition of the village is finalized, the state is now claiming the town will be open to Israeli Jews only.

According to Hiran's new regulations, individuals wanting to be part of the community must be Jewish citizens or permanent residents of Israel. They must also be “religiously observant according to Orthodox Jewish values.”

But Palestinian rights advocacy groups, such as Adalah, a legal center fighting for Arab minority rights in Israel, say that the new regulations fail to live up to the commitments the state made before the Israeli Supreme Court.

Attorney Suhad Bishara contacted both the National Planning and Building Council, as well as the Israeli Attorney General (AG) Avichai Mandelblit, stating that “[t]he establishment of a town for Jews only is forbidden by law, stands in opposition to statements made by the state's representatives to the Supreme Court, and contradicts the court ruling regarding the displacement of Umm al-Hiran residents — which was based on the statement that this would not be the establishment of an ethnically-based town.”

As we wait on more details regarding any responses or statements that may have been sent to Adalah, it's clear that Israel isn't serious about treating all of its residents, Jewish or not, equally.

One can only hope that as more outlets report on this blatant disregard for Palestinian rights, more world leaders will stand against Israel's settlement policy, pressuring the government to review its methods if it's truly willing to achieve peace in our lifetime.

Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Ammar Awad

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