What remains of a demolished classroom in a school in Dkaika village. cc: from pen and paintbrush [http://christiarts.wordpress.com/]
Although the village of Dqeiqa exists since the Ottoman period, the State of Israel decided to expel its residents claiming that the village cannot provide for itself as a “social and geographical entity.”
The village of Dqeiqa is a Bedouin village of approximately 400 residents, located in the desert of the Southeast Hebron Hills, in Area C. Dqeiqa is recognized by the Palestinian Authority as an independent village. In Dqeiqa, there is a school, a Mosque and a cemetery from the Ottoman period. However, the Israeli civil administration refuses to “recognize” Dqeiqa as an independent village, claiming that Dqeiqa cannot provide for itself as a “social and geographical entity.”
In 2005, the Israeli civil administration issued demolition orders against a number of buildings in Dqeiqa, including the school and the Mosque, as well as private houses.
We, the legal department of Rabbis for Human Rights, immediately submitted a petition to Israeli High Court of Justice against the aforementioned orders.
In our petition, we demanded that the civil administration must initiate a zoning plan for Dqeiqa, as a part of its obligation to maintain order and public life of a protected population in occupied territory.
The State, in its reply, was not willing to initiate such a plan. According to the State, the village itself is “illegal.” The State suggested instead that, because of “tribal similarity,” the residents of Dqeiqa should move to one of the “recognized” Bedouin villages nearby. We rejected this suggestion. The village Dqeiqa exists independently and therefore should be recognized. Moreover, in our opinion the State’s suggestion amounted to a forced expulsion of a protected population, which is forbidden by international law.
From the time that we submitted our petition in 2005 until the court’s decision in 2010 (described below), there was an interim injunction against the State’s planned destruction of the buildings in Dqeiqa.
In the Israeli High Court of Justice’s 2010 decision, our petition was rejected. In its rejection, the Court noted that while State is unwilling to plan the village itself, it would be open to examining a plan submitted by the village residents.
Since the Court’s ruling, the people of Dqeiqa, with our legal assistance, have begun to design a plan for the village, including fundraising, planning meetings and statistical surveys.
During the planning process, we repeatedly asked that the State again freeze its planned demolitions until the villagers of Dqeiqa had submitted their plan. However, the State ignored our requests. As such, we were forced to file another petition against the State to the High Court of Justice in June of 2011.
Following this submission, and a subsequent process of negotiation with the State, we agreed to withdraw our petition under the following conditions:
-The State must reply either affirmative or negative, to the question of whether or not it is possible to plan for Dqeiqa.
-If the State’s reply is negative, then the State will grant a 60-day extension in which it will not proceed with any demolitions.
-If the State’s reply is affirmative, then the State will grant a six month extension in which it will not proceed with any demolitions, and in which the residents of Dqeiqa, with the assistance of our Legal Department, will present a detailed plan for their village. If then the State decides to reject the plan presented by the residents of Dqeiqa, the State must then grant another 60-day extension in which it will not process with any demolitions.
Last week, on September 14th, we received the State’s reply to whether or not planning in Dqeiqa is possible: Negative. The State reiterated its claim that Dqeiqa cannot provide for itself as a “social and geographical entity.” However, the State did mention that while planning for Dqeiqa is not possible, the residents of Dqeiqa may nonetheless submit a zoning plan.
Despite the State’s declaration that planning for Dqeiqa is impossible, we will submit, as the legal representative of the residents of Dqeiqa, a zoning plan for the village by November 13th, 2011. On the same day, we will also submit another petition asking the Court to order an interim injunction against the State’s planned demolitions in Dqeiqa. In this petition, we will emphasize that the State’s suggestion that the residents of Dqeiqa move to other “recognized” Bedouin villages amounts to a forced expulsion of a protected population. Moreover, we will argue that the State’s likely rejection of the zoning plan must be seen as the beginning of a de facto enactment of the suggested expulsion.