x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Israel sues Bedouin 'squatters' for cost of destroying their homes

The Bedouins say they own large swaths of land in the Negev but Israel rejects these claims and has destroyed their homes 20 times.

JERUSALEM // Israeli authorities are suing residents of a makeshift Bedouin village for the cost of repeatedly evicting them and razing "illegal structures" where they live, an official said yesterday.

"They built about 40 structures there for which they have no [building] rights," Israel Land Administration spokeswoman Ortal Tzabar told Agence France-Presse.

"They have already invaded the site more than 20 times, putting up huts and buildings and it costs us, for policemen and bulldozers and manpower, a huge amount."

She said the cost so far is Dh1.9million.

A lawsuit for that amount was filed on Tuesday in a court in Beersheva, the capital of southern Israel's Negev desert region, where the Bedouin village of Al Araqib regularly rises and falls.

An Israeli non-governmental group, Bedouin-Jewish Justice, reported in March that the homes there had been destroyed and rebuilt 21 times since July 2010.

The Bedouins say they own large swaths of land in the Negev but Israel rejects these claims. They began squatting there in 1998.

The lawsuit is against 34 members of two clans, who it said are seeking to establish claims in Al Araqib although they have legal houses elsewhere.

*with reporting by Agence France-Presse