The Ministry of the Interior threatens to expel Bedouin community living decades in Jerusalem area

Published: 
19 Aug 2013
Updated: 
27 Aug 2013

Update: the members of the Tal ‘Adasa community have left the spot with their flocks, as ordered by the Ministry of the Interior, and have relocated elsewhere in the West Bank, outside the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. As no housing alternative has been found for the entire community, its 40-odd members had to split up: some moved to nearby Bir Nabala, while others went to al-Ksarat, east of Ramallah, where they will live on land owned by residents of a-Ram. Even after relocating to Area C in the West Bank, the community has no guarantee that the Israeli authorities will allow it to continue existing and developing according to its needs.


Residential structures in Tal ‘Adasa before (June 2013) and after the demolitions (19 Aug. 2013). Photos: 'Amer Aruri, B'Tselem
Left to right: Residential structures in Tal ‘Adasa before (June 2013) and after the demolitions (19 Aug. 2013). Photos: 'Amer Aruri, B'Tselem

On 19 August 2013, the Ministry of the Interior demolished all six residential structures of Tal ‘Adasa, a Bedouin community that numbers dozens, including many children. The community, part of the al-Ka’abneh tribe, lives within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, close to the Palestinian town of Beit Hanina. In addition to the demolition, inspectors informed community members they have ten days to leave the area before being forcefully removed and ordered them to clear the demolition debris themselves. Otherwise, the members were told, they would be forced to pay tens of thousands of shekels to cover the cost of debris removal and stood to be arrested.

Residents in Tal ‘Adasa before (June 2013) and after the demolitions (19 Aug. 2013). Photos: 'Amer Aruri, B'Tselem
Left to right: Residents in Tal ‘Adasa before (June 2013) and after the demolitions (19 Aug. 2013). Photos: 'Amer Aruri, B'Tselem

The community has lived in the area since the 1950s. Since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, the community members have not arranged to receive the legal status of “permanent resident of Israel” as residents of East Jerusalem.

In 1995, the authorities forced the community to leave their previous area of residence, close to Atarot, and demolished their homes. The community relocated to the current site, near the old one and close to the town of Bir Nabala, remaining within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. Subsequently, they began earning a living not only from herding sheep and goats as before, but also from cultivating plots of land owned by residents of Beit Hanina. The community has never been connected to Jerusalem’s water or electricity supplies.

Since 2005, the authorities have been pressuring them to relocate again.

In 2006, the Separation Barrier was constructed to the east and west of the community’s site of residence, rendering it an enclave under Jerusalem’s municipal jurisdiction that is isolated from the rest of the West Bank. As the community members are not registered as East Jerusalem residents, they cannot move freely within the boundaries of Jerusalem. On the other hand, since 2006 they have been unable to directly access the nearby Palestinian neighborhoods of Bir Nabala and a-Ram, where they have family and business ties and used to receive various services. For several years after the barrier was erected, they were occasionally given permits to cross the Qalandiya checkpoint and access the rest of the West Bank. However, since 2011, the Civil Administration has refused to issue them such permits.

Contents of home Tal 'Adasa after the demolition, 19 Aug. 2013. Photo: 'Amer Aruri, B'Tselem
Contents of home Tal 'Adasa after the demolition, 19 Aug. 2013. Photo: 'Amer Aruri, B'Tselem

As a result, some of the children in the community, who attend school in Bir Nabala, are forced to stay with relatives there and rarely come home. The other children live at home and attend school in Beit Hanina, which is within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries.

B’Tselem calls on the government of Israel to acknowledge the rights of the Tal ‘Adasa community, which has lived in the Jerusalem area for decades and has no other place in which to live. The authorities must find a solution to the community’s housing issue that is acceptable to its members. Demolishing their homes and forcefully displacing them constitutes a violation of international law and will leave them homeless and without a source of livelihood.