Sheikh who invaded state lands to be imprisoned

Supreme Court rejects appeal of sheikh who was sentenced to ten months in prison for illegal construction on state-owned property.

Ben Ariel,

Al Arakib
Al Arakib

Israel's Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the request to appeal submitted by Sheikh Sayakh Abu Madiam, who was sentenced to ten months in prison for repeated trespassing and illegal construction on property owned by the State in the phantom "village" in the Negev known as Al Arakib.

In the decision, Supreme Court Justice Elron found that "the criminal activity, including repeated expropriation and trespassing on property that had been cleared for housing construction, in violation of judgements handed down by the courts, goes beyond the boundaries of legitimate protest. The fact that the appellant's actions were committed against the backdrop of a public campaign does not justify granting him the right to appeal in this matter."

The Regavim movement for preservation of state lands welcomed the Supreme Court's decision.

"Al Arakib has become a symbol of the criminal encroachment by Bedouin on State land – encroachment that aims to wear down the State's resolve and to forcefully seize land that was never Bedouin property," said Amichai Yogev, Regavim's Director of Operations in the Negev.

The Bedouin activists who invaded the property in question over 100 times under the leadership of Sheikh Sayakh Abu Madiam, are residents of the town of Rahat, and the Israeli government has been forced to waste exorbitant sums of the public's money in order to evict the squatters time and time again.

"The Supreme Court's decision to deny Sheikh Sayakh abu Madiam's request to appeal brings this bizarre saga to an end," Yogev added. "We can only hope that the resolute treatment by the authorities and the court of the Al Arakib case will set the tone for similarly decisive action regarding other instances of illegal seizure and construction on State land."