Bedouin Face $275,000 Lawsuit for Land Grab
Government prosecutors are preparing a $275,000 (1 NIS million) lawsuit against Bedouin for the cost of removing them from government land they tried to take over northwest of Be’er Sheva.
The suit is likely to be filed against the sheikh of the Bedouin tribe that has staged 13 attempts to grab government land near the Bedouin city of Rahat. The same sheikh participated in a violent demonstration, coordinated with New Israel Fund activists, against the planting of trees of government land by the Jewish National Fund (JNF).
The lawsuit is not unprecedented but is unusual and may be a new measure to discourage Bedouin from continuing decades of confiscating state lands, some of them adjacent to army training grounds and even inside rifle ranges.
The final sum in the lawsuit has not been determined but is aimed at covering the cost of the use of helicopters and a force of more than 1,000 police officers to evacuate Bedouin trespassers.
Last week, a Knesset member proposed a bill providing for the immediate imposition of a fine against Bedouin who try to grab government land.
Officials estimate there are thousands of illegal Bedouin settlements, also known as “non-recognized communities,” with tens of thousands of illegally constructed buildings, in the Negev.
Aided by polygamy, prohibited by Israel law but with an exception for the Bedouin based on “religious tradition” the Bedouin Negev population has increased from a few thousand to more than 150,000 over the past four decades. Bedouin already make up a majority of the Negev population outside of Be’er Sheva. Some have begun to move into Jewish cities such as Arad.
Many Bedouin families with two or more wives include as many as two dozen or more children. Some of the families meet their expenses by collecting child support payments from the government.