On 8 February 1999, the al-Fakhir family, part of the Jahalin al-Saray’a Bedouin clan, received a demolition order from the Israeli Civil Administration informing them that their eight modest homes and tents as well as seven small sheep and chicken pens must be destroyed. The homes of the 39 member family are located east of Jerusalem in a part of Anata, on 25 dunums of land owned by a friend of the family. The land is currently classified under Israeli controlled area C, according to the Palestinian/Israeli interim agreement.
Palestinians who live under area C require building permits from the Israeli Civil Administration before building any type of structure. Although tents are not considered “structures” inside Israel and therefore do not need a permit, Israeli courts use Jordanian laws in the occupied territories to classify tents the same as a concrete houses, thus making tents eligible for demolition.
When asked why the Israeli government wishes to evict the family the Israeli lawyer working on the case, Netta Amar, said the reason for their eviction is unclear. “What is clear is that they don’t want them there.” The head of the family, Mohammed al-Fakhir, does not understand either why the Israelis are forcing them from their homes. He worries about the future of the family as there is no where else to go, especially with over 250 sheep and several dozen chickens.
Although human transfer is considered a war crime and a crime against humanity under the 4th Geneva Convention and has been condemned by the international community, there does not seem to be any stop to the Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing. The mere presence of the al-Fakhir family poses a threat to the Israeli governments efforts to secure Jewish hegemony in area C, a status which currently covers 72% of the West Bank.
With the overpowering force of the Israeli military in the occupied territories and with the Israeli courts legalizing governmental policy through an amalgam of Ottoman, Jordanian, British, and Israeli military laws, lawyers, defending the rights of the Bedouin, are faced with a difficult dilemma. Advocate on principle that the Bedouin will not move and expose them to the danger of a violent demolition and loss of property, or become parcel to a policy of ethnic cleansing and negotiate for some kind of compensation from the government, thereby “softening” the impact of transfer. Either way, whether through overt military force or a coerced agreement for compensation, the Bedouins lose.