The village of Umm al-Ḥīrān is a Bedouin unrecognized village situated 8 km north east of the town of Ḥūrah, with about 500 inhabitants. In 1952 the lands of the Abo al-Qian tribe, located in the north-western part of the Negev, were seized for use by the Israeli army, and the inhabitants were moved to the Lahav forest, where they remained until 1956. The village was then displaced again, the area was designated for the use of the state, and the village was moved in 1956 to its present location. The village is named after the Ḥīrān Valley that passes near the village, as well as the adjacent Ḥīrān mountain. There are many caves which over the years have been dug in the village for use as homes and as storage.
In 2000, following a three years struggle, the inhabitants of Umm al-Ḥīrān obtained a connection to a water point about 8 km away from the village, which they were then able to use by constructing the infrastructure at their own costs. In 2010 the village was disconnected from the water, following a series of decisions, in 2008 and 2009, to decrease the water quotas the village was allowed. The inhabitants currently carry water in tanks from Ḥūrah, about 8 km away, at the price of 65 shekels per cubic meter. The Supreme Court has recently rejected the inhabitants’ appeal to be connected to the central water pipe to allow them to bring water to the village. The village is not connected to the national electricity grid, and the residents use expensive solar panels to obtain electricity.
There are no educational or health services in the village. To obtain these services the villagers are forced to travel to the Bedouin town of Ḥūrah, about 8 km away and 10 minutes ride. The children have transportation from the main road to Ḥūrah.
Already in 2003 the National Council for Planning and Building approved the founding of the Jewish settlement Hiran in place of the village of Umm al-Ḥīrān. The plan is to displace the villagers, which would amount to a third removal of the village. In 2003 the village received eviction orders, and in 2004 the villagers began to receive demolitions orders for their homes. After a long legal struggle, in May 2015 the Supreme Court denied the Umm al-Ḥīrān residents’ appeal to cancel the eviction orders against them. According to this decision, the state can move the residents to Ḥūrah against their will and destroy the village.
In the meantime, the Jewish group ‘Garin Hiran’ awaits the establishment of the Hiran settlement. In the meantime they reside in the former military camp ‘Yatir Camp’ nearby. In November 2013 the government decided to start the construction of the Jewish settlement of Hiran within 60 days, anticipating its size to be in the order of 12,000 inhabitants. In August 2015, works to establish Hiran had started near the houses of Umm al-Ḥīrān.
The residents of Umm al-Ḥīrān have ownership claims on the land they had possessed in the northern Negev, from where they were removed, as noted, during the 1950s. The residents wish that the state recognize their village, whether as an independent agricultural settlement, as part of the Jewish settlement of Hiran (intended to be established on the village land), or as a settlement on their original land in the area of Kibutz Shoval.
On January 18th, 2017, hundreds of policemen arrived at the village of Umm al-Hiran before dawn, in order to demolish six structures. While the police stormed into the village, Ya’akub Abu Alqian, a local resident took his personal belongings, entered his car and started driving away since he did not want to witness his house being demolished. As he was driving away policemen shot live ammunition at him and killed him. After being shot, Ya’akub lost control over his car, which rolled down the hill and hit a policeman, killing him on the spot. As of the end of 2017, the events that took place on that day are still under investigation by the Police Investigation Department. For more information click here.
*Other forms of writing: Umm al-Hiran, Um al-Hiran, Umm Alhiran, Umm al-Khiran, Umm Alkhiran