Daily Israel Report

Court Orders Illegal Bedouin Mansions Razed

Authorities in the Negev have 12 months to tear down 30 luxurious homes that were built illegally.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 2/15/2010, 6:25 PM / Last Update: 2/15/2010, 6:31 PM

Regavim

The Court for Administrative Matters in Be'er Sheva has given a local government authority 12 months to raze 30 luxurious villas that were built by Bedouins without permits. The decision was handed down in a motion filed by Regavim, an NGO which specializes in fighting illegal Arab construction, against the Abu Basma Local Council.

The Abu Basma Local Council is made up of the Bedouin communities northeast of Be'er Sheva, near the Jewish communities of Meitar and Omer. It was established as part of an attempt to regulate rampant illegal Arab construction in the area, and to prevent further Bedouin encroachment on government land in the Negev.

Governmental impotence
Regavim told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew service that the Abu Basma Council had not fulfilled its appointed role, and refuses to stop  illegal Bedouin construction.

“The lawlessness continues and every Bedouin builds as he pleases,” the group said. “The Council has even admitted that it does not enforce the law, in order to avoid clashing with its residents. Despite the wave of illegal construction, which includes dozens of villas built without permits, the Council has torn down only two illegal homes in all the years of its existence and filed only one criminal complaint that led to a charge sheet. In the past year the Council initiated legal action only against metal sheds and has not attempted to confront the area's affluent residents who build luxurious castles.”

In the face of this governmental impotence, Regavim decided to petition the court and demand that the local government council carry out supervision and enforcement measures, and raze the illegal buildings in its jurisdiction. Regavim was represented by lawyers from the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel. In response to the motion, the Attorney General admitted that there was a complete lack of enforcement in Abu Basma.

This week the Court for Administrative Matters instructed the Abu Basma Council to take action – including demolition of illegal buildings – against the violators of the construction laws in its territory. It gave the Council 12 months to tear down the 30 illegal buildings which have demolition orders pending against them, and to begin legal steps against 35 other illegal buildings. Regavim said that there are hundreds of additional illegal buildings in Abu Basma and that it is considering filing a motion about them as well.