Appendix A: Special Procedures Address the Bedouin Problem

In 1998, during a review of Israel’s compliance under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Committee stated in its concluding comments,

The Committee notes with deep concern that a significant proportion of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel continue to live in unrecognised villages without access to water, electricity, sanitation and roads. Such an existence has caused extreme difficulties for the villagers in regard to their access to health care, education and employment opportunities. In addition, these villagers are continuously threatened with demolition of their home and confiscation of their land. The Committee regrets the inordinate delay in the provision of essential services to even the few villages that have been recognised. In this connection, the Committee takes note that while Jewish settlements are constructed on a regular basis, no new Arab villages have been built in the Galilee.[para. 26]

In 2007 Israel appeared before the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which commented in its concluding observations:

The Committee expresses concern about the relocation of inhabitants of unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev/Naqab to planned towns. While taking note of the State party’s assurances that such planning has been undertaken in consultation with Bedouin representatives, the Committee notes with concern that the State party does not seem to have enquired into possible alternatives to such relocation, and that the lack of basic services provided to the Bedouin may in practice force them to relocate to the planned towns.[para. 25]

Furthermore, the CERD recommended that Israel:

enquire into possible alternatives to the relocation of inhabitants of unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev/Naqab to planned towns, in particular through the recognition of these villages and the recognition of the rights of the Bedouin to own, develop, control and use their communal lands, territories and resources traditionally owned or otherwise inhabited or used by them. It recommends that the State party enhance its efforts to consult with the inhabitants of the villages and notes that it should in any case obtain the free and informed consent of affected communities prior to such relocation.

The Human Rights Committee, in its 1998 examination of Israel’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, stated in its concluding observations that it:

also deplores the practice of demolitions, in part or in whole, of “illegally” constructed Arab homes … The Committee considers the demolition of homes to conflict directly with the obligation of the State party to ensure without discrimination the right not to be subjected to arbitrary interference with one’s home (article 17), the freedom to choose one’s residence (article 12) and equality of all persons before the law and equal protection of the law (article 26). [CCPR/C/79/Add.93, para. 24]

The special rapporteur on the right to housing, while primarily looking at housing rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, talks about administrative demolitions carried out in East Jerusalem:

[W]hatever the pretext in terms of builders breaking administrative norms, such destruction and suffering cannot be justifiable under the principles of necessity and proportionality in the State’s use of force in the application of civil law.[para 21]

The demolitions ordered either for lack of permit or another pretext have a military dimension and a gratuitously cruel nature. Orders are often issued without specifying the affected home(s), without indicating the date of the order or demolition, and without sufficient warning to inhabitants. Some administrative demolitions are carried out with no orders at all. In most cases of demolition for lack of permit, authorities wait until construction is complete before coming to destroy the home, inflicting the heaviest possible material loss to the victim. [para 22]