Friday, May 31, 2013

5 Bedouins injured as Israeli police demolish houses in Negev

5/31/2013  10:20 - BEERSHEBA, Israel (Ma’an) – Five Palestinians sustained injuries Thursday in clashes with Israeli police officers in the Bedouin village of Beer al-Mashash in the Negev.

A Ma’an reporter said the clashes erupted as Israeli forces demolished three houses in the village which is “unrecognized” by the Israeli authorities. The houses belong to the Abu Skeik family.

As the owners tried to prevent the demolitions, Israeli officers fired stun grenades, tear-gas canisters and plastic-coated bullets. As a result, five were injured including children and a pregnant woman.

“Israeli police officers behave like scoundrels rather than law enforcers,” said Arab member of the Knesset Talab Abu Arar.

Israeli police patrols escorted bulldozers affiliated with the so-called land department [the Israel Land Administration] which arrived at the village to finish demolishing three structures. A day earlier the owners had started demolishing the homes after receiving orders from Israeli authorities.

Israeli forces demolish Bedouin homes for 2nd time in fortnight
(updated) 5/30/2013 20:04

BEERSHEBA (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Thursday demolished 11 structures and tents belonging to Palestinian Bedouins in a Negev village for the second time in two weeks.

A heavily armed police force sealed Attir village near al-Hura to allow bulldozers of the Jewish National Fund and Park Authorities to level homes belonging to the Abu al-Qiean family, a Ma'an reporter said.

The structures had been rebuilt after Israeli forces demolished them on May 16.

One of the residents whose home was demolished, Shihdeh Abu al-Qiean, said an Israeli officer told him: "Beware there are no media outlets here."

Another resident, Ratib al-Qiean, told Ma'an: "We will never leave this land even if they demolish our houses 100 times. We will live in tents until God says the final word."

He said Israel demolished 11 tents and steel homes, uprooted several trees and confiscated a power generator and agricultural equipment. "All the wreckage was loaded in lorries in order to hide all evidence of the crime," he added.

Talal Abu Ara, a Palestinian member of Israel's Knesset, visited the village and said the demolition was a "crime against humanity."

Abu Arar and fellow Palestinian MKs Ibrahim Sarsour, Ahmad Tibi and Masood Ghanayim joined dozens of Negev Bedouins in a demonstration in front of Israel's Knesset on Monday to protest the forced displacement of nearly 40,000 Bedouins.

Abu Arar, who is leading a campaign to protect Negev Bedouins, appealed to "rational Israeli officials" to halt implementation of the Prawer-Begin plan, which he called a "racist, apartheid law."

Bedouins "are not immigrants from a foreign country, but indigenous owners of the land," he added.

Ramiz Jaraisy, the mayor of Nazareth, and MKs Hana Sweid and Afou Ighbariyya also attended the Jerusalem protest.

In early May, Israel's Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved a bill which outlines a framework for implementing the Prawer-Begin plan.

The plan will forcibly evict nearly 40,000 Bedouins and destroy their communal and social fabric, condemning them to a future of poverty and unemployment, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel says.

Israel refuses to recognize 35 Bedouin villages in the Negev, which collectively house nearly 90,000 people.

The Israeli state denies them access to basic services and infrastructure, such as electricity and running water, and refuses to place them under municipal jurisdiction.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Background on Israeli government's plan to expel 40,000 Negev Bedouin

The Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs is set to discuss the Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev on Monday 6 May. The Bedouin community and human rights organisations strongly object to the bill and want it removed from the Knesset’s and government’s agenda. The bill is based on the Begin Plan, approved by the government on January 27, 2013, which effectively constitutes a modified version of the Prawer Plan for Bedouin settlement in the Negev, approved by the government on September 11, 2011.

Today the Bedouin number 210,000. About 120,000 live in seven Bedouin towns established by the State. Most of the towns suffer heavily from poverty and unemployment resulting from discrimination and their residents’ severance from traditional livelihood and sources of income. The rest of the community  - around 90,000, live in 11 villages currently undergoing recognition, plus 35 more villages with more than 500 inhabitants each. The State of Israel does not recognise these 35 villages. These 46 villages together constitute around 5% of the entire land of the Negev.

These Israeli citizens in unrecognised villages are denied their most basic rights: their villages are not connected to the state’s water and sewer systems nor to its electrical grid; education and health services are only partially provided to them, and are inadequate; and the state refuses to recognise villagers’ historical claims of ancestral ownership of the land.

Until 1948 the Negev served as home to 65,000-100,000 Bedouin who inhabited and worked somewhere between 2 and 3 million dunams of land.  After the war only about 10% of the population remained, under a military regime. In the 1970’s the State of Israel allowed the Bedouin to submit claims of land ownership. The Bedouin asserted they owned about 1.5 million dunams of land. Of those, about 500,000 dunams of pastureland were not granted recognition; different sources disagree over the exact total and the number of dunams formalized through court rulings. The estimates range from 200,000 to 350,000 dunam. In some cases they received compensation, but in the vast majority of cases they were not given the right to remain on the lands they had claimed to own, and many of the resolutions were forced on the Bedouin. About 650,000 dunams of land remain unresolved.

The desire to develop the Northern Negev prompted the government of Israel to recognize the need to resolve the ownership of the lands.

In 2008 a committee under a retired judge, Eliezer Goldberg, determined that historical Bedouin rights to the land must be recognised. A series of recommendations were made but the government did not ratify these and instead established the Praver Committee in 2009, which was to oversee implementation of the Goldberg Committee report. The Praver committee altered both its approach to the issue and its recommendations. According to the Praver proposal the Bedouin would only receive 180,000-200,000 dunams, whereas their claims cover approximately 600,000. About 40,000 Bedouin will be removed from their villages if the proposal is adopted.

A reading of the Praver Committee report indicates that the committee did not involve the Bedouin community in determining its fate; it did not even hear its claims.

As a result of vehement public criticism of the Praver report, former Minister Benny Begin embarked on a “listening mission” aimed at fixing the Praver report. The Begin Outline was approved by the government on 27 January 2013, but despite its softer rhetoric, the latest report does not contain any redress for the government’s unwillingness to recognize the 36 unrecognized Bedouin villages and to fairly resolve the land ownership claims of Bedouin citizens whose property was appropriated by the State.

The bill outlines a framework for the implementation of government policies toward the Bedouin population on two separate issues: (1) the evacuation of unrecognized villages in the Negev, and (2) the settlement of ownership of lands in the Negev.  The bill is based on the absolute negation of the Bedouin population’s rights to property and historical ties to the land, in violation of the residents of the unrecognized villages’ basic rights.

Like Prawer, the Begin Plan is also based on the notion that Bedouin are “squatters,” ignoring the fact that most of the villages have been in existence in their current location since before the establishment of the State of Israel. Other villages were established by government transfer during the period of martial law.

What will happen if the plan is implemented?
The plan will lead to the uprooting and forcible eviction of dozens of villages and 30-40,000 Bedouin residents, who will be stripped of their property and their historical land rights. Thousands of families will be condemned to poverty and unemployment. The communal life and social fabric of these villages will be destroyed. Like its precursor, the current plan also seeks to restrict the Bedouin to a specific area and to forcibly apply this policy.

A fair arrangement is needed to benefit all the Negev residents
A significant choice now confronts the State of Israel. At stake is not only the fate of about 40,000 Bedouin threatened with expulsion from their homes, but the future of all the Negev inhabitants. The decision before us is whether to perpetuate and exacerbate the tension and sense of deprivation already worsening the situation in the Negev, or to arrive at a just resolution that will allow closer relations and promote growth and development of the area.

A just and feasible solution means, first and foremost, recognizing the fact that the Bedouin in the unrecognized villages are citizens with equal rights.
  • It will be arrived at only with real involvement from the Bedouin community institutions.
  • Ownership claims to land made in the 1970's must be considered fully with recognition for all existing villages.
  • Unique agricultural nature of the villages must be taken into account, along with the Bedouin’s patterns for settlement, land ownership and family and social customs.
  • The Negev must be developed equally for all its citizens. 
Click here to send a letter to Israel's Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid urging them not to send the Praver/Begin plan to the Knesset for enactment into law.   
This is an abridged version of a document provided by our friends at ACRI - The Association for Civil Rights in Israel.