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November Newsletter – Negev – Bir Hadaj residents burn barn @ Kibbutz Revivim

Bir Hadaj residents angered by Israeli law enforcement efforts to stop their illegal building go on a rampage and burn down the neighbouring kibbutz barn. Estimated damage $500,000.

Monday morning, 12th November 2012, Israel Land Authority inspectors, covered by a large force of police tried to enter Bir Hadaj to give out demolition orders on illegal building. It seems at first sight of the inspectors many of the villagers came out and burnt tires and threw rocks at the entrance to the village and surrounding roads. After a while they moved to the neighbouring Kibbutz Revivim and set fire to its feed barn – Estimated damage $500,000. 

The town of Bir Hadaj was established by the State in the last decade in order to regulate the homes of Bedouin residents scattered in the surrounding area.  Each family was offered 5 dunams in the newly established town with all services provided such as water, electricity, sewerage, schooling and health services. One of the impetuses to ease the Bedouin from their illegal residences in the surrounding area, is due to the fact that they sit on 1,900 dunam (~470 acres) of privately owned Jewish land. Lo and behold – instead of going to the newly established regulated community, which the government spent millions to establish and build legally, the Bedouins continue to settle outside the regulated community on private Jewish land. Amazingly enough looking at aerial photos over the last 10 years one can see that they are building anywhere but in the area given to them.

And what of the rule of law? If there were just one case, where no illegal construction is justified, this should be it. Here is a clear cut case of the Government not only wanting to help the Bedouin settle legally but also providing them with everything they need to get it done in an organized fashion. However, to no avail the Bedouins continue to do as they please and the law enforcement authorities continue to do nothing. The town of Bir Hadaj, with the many millions invested in it, is nearly deserted, and illegal construction around it continues unabated if not accelerated.

So why is this phenomena continuing? The reason is simple. Within the new town the Bedouin are required to build in accordance with the law, as in any other town in Israel. They have to build to the legally allowed size and location, submit plans, pay fees, taxes and surcharges, like in any town in Israel. Outside the town they are used to building whatever they want, where they want and without paying a dime. And when there is no enforcement and they have nothing to lose why would anyone volunteer and build legally! And where there is an effort attempted at law enforcement the authorities are scared away through violence, intimidation and retaliation against nearby Jewish towns and Kibbutzim!!