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Umm al-Hiran: Chronicle of a disappearance

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By Bao Yen - March 14, 2016
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Photos by Bao Yen.

Located 8 km northeast of the recognized township of Hura, Umm al-Hiran is among the Bedouin villages in the Negev desert at the risk of being demolished.

Named after the valley that passes by, Umm al-Hiran is home to about 500 residents of the Abu al-Qian tribe.

Following the Nakba in 1948, the tribe was forced to leave their ancestral lands to an area nearby Rahat, the biggest Bedouin town in the Negev.

Since then, the Abu al-Qian tribe had been displaced several times until they subsequently settled at the present location and founded the village of Umm al-Hiran.

In 1997, a heavy storm destroyed the whole village. Israeli Minister of Infrastructure visited the area and ordered the villagers to build new stone houses for their protection. These houses, however, were not granted any building permissions.

Even though the relocation of Umm al-Hiran to the current area was a specific order from the Israeli authorities, now after 60 years, residents of the village are once again at the edge of being uprooted.

In May 2015, Israel's Supreme Court rejected the appeal of the residents of Umm al-Hiran against the removal of their village to make rooms for the construction of a new Jewish village.

The court gave out rulings that the land belongs to the state and the residents of Umm al-Hiran are not entitled to live there. 

The residents of Umm al-Hiran have since received demolition orders and were told to move to the Bedouin town of Hura, where living conditions are already overloaded and infrastructure underdeveloped.

Umm al-Hiran is among the 46 Bedouin villages in the Negev unrecognized by Israeli authorities. Those villages are not seen in the map and as such, deprived of basic necessities including running water and electricity. 

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