Photo Credit: Hillel Maeir/TPS
Illegal Bedouin shantytown Khan el Akhmar, near Jerusalem. Jan 10, 2016.

The Beer Sheva District Court on Thursday accepted an appeal by the State Prosecutor, and sentenced Ayman Abu Skaeiyak, to seven months in prison, the first man convicted of polygamy in Israel since enforcement of existing laws forbidding polygamy was reinstated nearly one year ago

The District Court overturned the decision handed down by the Beer Sheva Magistrates Court earlier this year, which sentenced Abu Skaeiyak to a mere 6 hours of community service.

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The Regavim Movement, which has taken an active role in the fight against polygamy in Israel, applauded the judgment.

“We welcome the District Court decision, and congratulate the State Prosecutor’s Office for its resolute action to ensure that the crime of polygamy is more than a symbolic prohibition in Israel’s legal code,” the organization stated.

Regavim noted that aside from the harm polygamy causes to women and children, the lack of enforcement of these laws “is a symbol of the State of Israel’s absence in the Negev.”

“For all intents and purposes, the Bedouin sector has been ‘ungoverned’ by the State for far too long. Although today’s District Court decision is a drop of water in a sea of illegality, it sets a significant and much-needed precedent for law enforcement,” the group said.

Regavim is dedicated to protecting Israel’s resources and restoring the rule of law, and advocates equal, universal enforcement of the law as an expression of Israel’s sovereignty and “as a means of ensuring that the Land of Israel will be a healthy, democratic, Zionist State that our children and grandchildren can live in proudly,” a Regavim spokesperson has told TPS.

Regavim believes that the failure of Israel’s authorities to enforce the law “in certain sectors and certain areas stems from the unwillingness of the government to confront charges of racism or cultural bias. The result is catastrophic, both on the level of governability, and on the level of sovereignty,” she added.

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