Suppose you were told, say by the council, that your house was going to be demolished for no reason except that it contravened a new planning act. How would you respond?
Now suppose that the council told you that you must demolish your own house. What would it take for you to do it?
Well the villagers in Al Araqib, in the Negev desert, were told precisely that. They refused and the state demolished their village.
They have lived there under Ottoman and British and Israeli laws. They have documentation showing land ownership. Their graveyard is over a hundred years old, yet the Israeli courts have ruled that they are squatters and their dwellings are illegal.
It is surely a crime that their village was destroyed to make way for a Jewish National Fund forest and a new all Jewish settlement.
Even worse an Israeli court ruled that because they did not destroy their own homes they must pay a fine.
“The residents of Al-Araqib, which has been demolished over 100 times since 2010, must pay 262,000 shekels (over $72,000) for the demolition costs and an additional 100,000 shekels for the expenses of the state’s lawyer.”
A report from the Negev Coexistence Forum came out dated July 2010. It contains the following :
‘Self-demolitions’ are carried out by the owners of the structures themselves, after a demolition order has been issued. The Southern Administration defines ‘self-demolitions’ as a direct result of “dialogue and investigations conducted by the Yoav [special police force].” This definition is puzzling, since investigations and file initiations are not related in any way to dialogue. On the contrary, the presence of police forces and the fear of criminal sanctions that can be imposed on the owners of the structures creates great trauma for the Bedouin residents. The desire to avoid this trauma, the possibility of saving personal equipment and construction materials in a controlled demolition, and threats from authorities demanding reparation for demolition costs from the owners, are just some of the reasons why people decide to demolish themselves.
What sort of Government evicts you from your home and forces you to demolish it?