After Serving 15 Years in Egyptian Prison, Israel to Raze Home of Bedouin 'Spy'

Ouda Tarabin has been ordered to knock down the house he is building in an unrecognized Negev village, where construction is banned.

Ouda Tarabin holding up the demolition notice at his home on April 11, 2016.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The Finance Ministry’s enforcement division has ordered Ouda Tarabin to demolish the home he is building for himself and his fiancee in an unrecognized Bedouin village. Tarabin returned to Israel in December after serving 15 years in prison on charges of spying for Israel.

Tarabin says he is building a temporary home in the village, so that he and his future wife will have a place to live while waiting for their permanent home in Rahat to be completed. Two weeks ago Finance Ministry inspectors served Tarabin with a stop-work order instructing him to dismantle the partially built home.

New construction is generally not permitted in the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev.

Tarabin expressed indignation at the enforcement, saying that he has had difficulty readjusting since his release from prison and has been unable to find work. He told Haaretz that the authorities were not treating him as he thought they would. Tarabin would not say whether he thought he deserved special treatment because he had served the state, refusing to confirm that he had indeed spied in Egypt on behalf of Israel.

In a statement, the Finance Ministry said the state enforces the law equally and without prejudice, adding that demolition orders are issued against buildings, not individuals, and that usually the structure’s owner is unknown. “In order to stop the phenomenon of illegal construction, the emphasis is on stopping new building work,” the statement said.

The Public Security Ministry said that in 2015 there was an 8.5 percent drop in the number of demolitions, from 1,073 demolitions in 2014, to 982 last year. In 2012 there were only 780 demolitions.