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Court orders Israel to explain plans to demolish Palestinian village Dkeika & expel residents

0 Comments 18 July 2017


On Tuesday July 18 2017, Israel’s High Court of Justice issued an order nisi instructing the state to explain within 90 days its decision to reject the master plan submitted by residents of the Palestinian village Dkeika and move them to an adjacent village.

 Attorney Netta Amar-Shiff, Rabbis for Human Rights, and residents of Palestinian village of Dkeika, at High Court of Justice hearing to save the village from demolition and forced displacement. Photo: Sarit Michaeli

Attorney Netta Amar-Shiff, Rabbis for Human Rights, and residents of Palestinian village of Dkeika, at High Court of Justice hearing to save the village from demolition and forced displacement. Photo: Sarit Michaeli

The order was issued following a High Court hearing on Monday July 17th before Justices Hendel, Shoham and Barak Erez of a petition filed by the residents of the Palestinian village Dkeika, located on the outer edges of the South Hebron hills in Area C, and threatened by demolition and forced displacement. The petition was filed by the village head of Dkeika and its residents along with the assistance of Rabbis for Human Rights, represented by attorney Netta Amar-Shiff.

In their petition, the villagers demand a solution that will enable them to continue living on their land: either approval of the proposed master plan or another administrative solution. The State, on the other hand, insists that the village be demolished by March 2018 and that its residents be moved to adjacent village Hmeida. This despite the fact that Hmeida also does not have an approved master plan. The petition demands a solution that will allow residents to continue living on their land, either via approval or amendment of the master plan they have submitted.

Background to the petition:

The Palestinian-Bedouin village of Dkeika is situated at the southern edge of the West Bank. Its demolition and the expulsion of its inhabitants is imminent. Of the 140 structures in the village, 111 have final demolition orders on them due to their “illegal status.” In an attempt to rectify the situation and allow for legal building, the village submitted a master plan drawn up by a professional planner which was subsequently rejected by the Israeli army. In response, a High Court petition was filed in 2014 demanding the master plan’s approval or, alternatively, for the Court to order the Civil Administration to initiate its own plan for the village that will allow for its continued existence in its current location. In the event that the petition is rejected, or if the court refuses to intervene, the state might very well demolish this multi-generational village of over 300 residents in whole or in part.

Given the growing needs of the villagers and their unique agrarian livelihood, the residents’ wish to continue building within the plan’s boundaries is a clear necessity. However, this need could potentially play a role in the court’s decision, as 15 homes were built after the petition was submitted on humanitarian grounds and and are at higher vulnerability for demolition. In any case, there is the distinct possibility that all of the structures in the village may be demolished.

Dkeika. Photo: UNOCHA

Dkeika. Photo: UNOCHA

Summary of facts:

*Dkeika is an unrecognized Palestinian-Bedouin village of more than 300 residents in the South Hebron Hills. The village is currently in danger of demolition and forcible transfer.

* Israel does not recognize the village and refuses to approve the professional, village-initiated master plan that would allow residents to apply for building permits. Left with no other recourse, villagers are forced to build “illegally.”

* Israel seeks to transfer the residents of the Dkeika to another village (Hmeida) within a year. However, the expansion plan for the new village is not recognized either. This means Dkeika’s residents will once again be vulnerable to the risk of forced transfer and further demolitions following implementation of the state’s “solution.”

* The village is part of the Kaabne-Najada village council. it does not interfere with any other community or activities in its vicinity.

* Aerial photographs show Dkeika existed prior to Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank in 1967

* Contrary to its own claims and in violation of international law, displacing the village will break continuity of procedures and practices previously established by past rulers of the West Bank in regards to land use and ownership laws.

* The forced transfer of protected persons of an occupied territory is forbidden and amounts to a grave breach of international law.

JPost: Supreme Court to Decide Fate of Unrecognised West Bank Beduin Village

Additional details on Dkeika’s High Court case

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