The Negev Coexistence Forum (NCF) Report on House Demolitions in the Negev during 2012-13 reveals that more than 1200 houses in Bedouin Villages have been demolished since the approval of the Prawer plan by the Government in 2011
An average of fifteen houses of Arab Bedouin citizens are demolished each week, half of them by the residents themselves – a surprising and little known fact revealed by the NCF in this report. During 2012 and throughout the first half of 2013, a total of 1376 homes were demolished in Israel’s southern district. Of them, 926 were demolished in 2012, with another 450 demolished by July 2013. The vast majority of these houses – namely, 1261, which constitute 91% of the overall demolished properties – were inside Bedouin villages.
Most of the demolitions executed by Israeli authorities, 620 in total, were commissioned by administrative warrants. 551 of these, constituting 99.5% of those issued throughout the district, were delivered to the Bedouin population.
Of all demolished houses of Bedouin citizens, about 636 homes were self-demolished by their owners. This is a result of an Israel Land Authority ( ILA) policy according to which residents are required to pay for the expenses of demolition. As the threat of carrying the burden of payments became more tangible, many have chosen to demolish their homes themselves.
In 2013, as part of a massive wave of demolitions, entire neighbourhoods were destroyed Unlike previous years 2011-2012, in which only stand-alone structures?house were destroyed, the Israeli authorities have renewed demolition of entire complexes. In the unrecognized village of Ateer?Atir, for instance, eight houses were demolished in May 2013 and hundreds of olive trees were uprooted in a single demolition event.
Furthermore, in the past few years authorities have begun submitting demolition warrants for long-established structures?houses that have been modestly renovated. As such, entire houses were demolished in response to the smallest additions like replacement of a leaking roof or wall.
Demolitions in 2013 were executed in the shadow of the Law for the Regulation of the Bedouin Settlement in the Negev, the so-called Prawer-Begin Plan, issued as a governmental directive in September 2011 and given preliminary approval by the Israeli Knesset in June 2013. As part of the plan, budgets were allocated for the establishment and administration of the “Authority for the Regulation of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev.” Significant funds were devoted to law enforcement activities, which led to the establishment of the “Coordination Directorate of Land Law Enforcement (Hebrew acrostic MATPA), whose role is to administer and coordinate the activities of demolition enforcement bodies in the Negev.
One of MATPA’s executive bodies is the police combat unit, “Yoav,” whose job is to supervise and enforce planning and construction laws in the Negev. Established in 2013, the unit is equipped with about 150 officers, as well as water cannons and other crowd control technologies, weapons and helicopters. Through targeted recruitment of veteran combat soldiers, the unit is expected to grow to approximately 400 policemen.
The lack of data, confidentiality of maps, and ambiguity regarding the fate of the unrecognized villages under the Prawer-Begin-Shamir Plan, provide few indications as to which villages are to be evicted. Such plans exist, but have been kept hidden from the public. This is a deliberate lack of transparency and extremely disturbing, negating the principle of ‘the right of the public to know’. NCF continues to monitor the Prawer-Begin-Shamir Plan and the situation on the ground in the Negev.