Israel Police Orders Its Arab, Bedouin Officers to Leave Illegal Homes

Regavim, an NGO whose stated aim is 'preserving national lands,' sends letter to national police chief containing names of seven Israeli Arab and Bedouin officers it claims lived in unauthorized dwellings.

Bedouin and Arab officers serving in the Israel Police who live in unauthorized buildings in southern Israel and East Jerusalem will be instructed to leave their homes. The decision is based on a response from the police legal department to a nonprofit organization that challenged a directive ordering a police officer to leave his home in an unauthorized Jewish settler outpost in the West Bank.

In that case, a police sapper living in an illegal house in Migron was ordered to move out, together with his family, or face an investigation that could end in his dismissal from the police force.

Tal Cohen

Regavim, an NGO whose stated aim is "preserving national lands," sent a letter to the national police chief containing the names of seven Israeli Arab and Bedouin officers it claimed also lived in unauthorized dwellings. "It is undoubtedly impossible to accept a double standard in which the same person who enforces the law in the day brutally violates it at night when he returns to his illegal home," the letter said.

"Nothing could do more to undermine the public's trust in law enforcement," said the letter, "and so we praise your determined efforts to clean the stables as well as the unequivocal demand from those in the police ranks who are living in illegal buildings to choose at once between continued service and their illegal home."

Regavim provided details about four Bedouin officers and three East Jerusalem officers living in unauthorized structures. They included a Bedouin officer from the Arad police station living in the vicinity of Hura, one who lived near Nabatim Junction and served in the Southern District and one who served in Be'er Sheva and lived in the nearby Bedouin community of Kseifa.

In a response to Regavim, Israel Police legal adviser Shaul Gordon wrote, in part: "The officers of the Israel Police are obligated to uphold and to enforce the law. There is no doubt that officers may not live in quarters that have been declared illegal and against which final demolition orders have been issued." Gordon went on to explain that in accordance with instructions from the national police chief, "any officer living in such a structure will be requested to leave the home."

According to a response statement issued by the police, "The police do not have the ability to initiate examinations into where each of the force's 28,000 officers lives. In this matter the Israel Police acts on the basis or complaints or information that it receives."