The BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights condemns in the strongest possible terms the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court on January 18th 2016 to demolish and evict all residents of Atir-Umm al-Hiran village, located in the Wadi Atir area of the Negev desert, in order to build a Jewish town over its ruins. As such, this would represent a secondary phase of displacement for residents of the village, which was built in 1957 by individuals and families who had fled the violence of the Nakba in 1948.
The ruling of the Supreme Court comes in the context of a number of measures which result in forced displacement and segregation of Palestinian residents, with Palestinian Bedouins of the Negev (al-Naqab) particularly affected. To this end, such measures constitute a direct contravention of human rights agreements including the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
This decision to evict and displace more than 1000 Palestinians is not an exceptional case, but an illustration of Israel’s continuous efforts to obliterate the existence of Palestinians in Israel, and to forcibly displace them; whether by colonial practices such as land confiscation, displacement and institutionalized discrimination, or the creation of a coercive environment, which makes living in these villages under such circumstances virtually intolerable.
This latest ruling of the Supreme Court is a manifestation of the Prawer Plan to displace 70,000 Palestinians from 39 Arab villages (unrecognized by Israel). It demonstrates the incessant complicity of the Israeli judicial system in colonial policies, and in contributing to large scale forced displacement, land confiscation, and other discriminatory practices against Palestinian residents.
It should also be noted that this ruling will naturally result in disastrous economic, social and cultural consequences for the affected Palestinian families, individuals and societies, contributing to a scenario where basic human rights - such as the right to housing and the right to life – are grievously undermined.
As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, fundamental rights which are enshrined in international law are now being stripped from Palestinian communities by the very institution tasked to protect them. Such a development threatens not only the very existence of these communities, but also the relevance of international law.