Israel’s continues to maltreat and displace Bedouins
In September 2011, the Israeli cabinet had approved a plan to relocate tens of thousands of Bedouin from unrecognized villages into communities with official status.
The plan would pay compensation to anyone “who can prove they have worked the land they lay claim to”. Some 20,000 to 30,000 Bedouin from 13 unrecognized communities will have to move to existing recognized towns. The plan emerges from the recommendations of a Prime Minister’s Office to find a solution to the problem of unrecognized villages in the Negev. The decision was protested by the Bedouin who argued they had never consulted during its preparation.
Adalah, theLegalCenterfor Arab Minority Rights inIsraelcalled the plan “a declaration of war on the Bedouin in theNegev.” According to the plan, a new would be drafted by which Bedouin who can prove they owned land until 1979 will receive alternative land in exchange for land they transfer to the state. Others will receive monetary compensation.
A total of some 70,000 Bedouin currently live in unrecognized villages in the Negev. The Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages, the planning association Bimkom and the Bedouin women’s group Sidra presented their own plan proposing “rational” legalization of all 46 unrecognized villages. The alternative plan did not propose legalizing all illegal construction, as some Bedouin demanded, but suggested that the unrecognized communities adhere to accepted planning principles in terms of greater density, allocation of land for public buildings and conservation of open space.
The Bedouin claimed that their “plan is more applicable, because it was created from within the Bedouin community but conforms to accepted planning principles inIsraeltoday.”
Representatives of groups opposed to the plan said it also went against the recommendations of the 2008 Goldberg Commission report, which found that a grave injustice had been done to the Bedouin, which should be corrected by legalizing as many of the unrecognized communities as possible.
The Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality had called the Israeli cabinet decision wrong in light of a recent U.N. report on the rights of indigenous peoples, whose author, Prof. James Anaya, criticizedIsrael’s attitude toward its Bedouin citizens and called on the government to stop house demolitions in the Negev.
Amnesty International had also slammed Israel’s cabinet decision, calling it a serious blow to Bedouin rights to proper housing and saying it did not conform to Israel’s international human rights obligations. International standards require the government to consult the Bedouin population on such a plan.
Since the founding of the state,Israel has ignored the Bedouin’s historical presence in the region and has sought to transfer and concentrate the population into a small geographic area in the north-eastern Negev – in order to confine their living space and free up the most fertile areas of the Negev for Jewish agricultural settlement.
In the context of its continuous disregard for multiple identities, surely Israelcannot any longer disregard the tag “apartheid state”.
In the report below, we read how a village that has lived with sustained flagrant violations committed by the Israeli authorities against its Arab population now believed it might be set to find its name in the Guinness World Records for the wrong reasons- a record number of demolitions of an Arab village!
Palestinian villagers demand Guinness entry for demolition record
By Al Arabiya
13 June 2012
Residents of an Arab village in Israel demanded entry into Guinness World Records for breaking a record in the number of demolitions carried out by Israeli authorities.
The Bedouin village of al-Araqeeb, whose population is estimated at 500, is located in the Negev in southernIsraeland has had its houses demolished 38 times upon instructions from the Israel Land Administration.
“Our village has become a living example of the flagrant violations committed by the Israeli authorities against its Arab population,” Awad Abu Farih, head of the Committee for the Defense of al-Araqeeb told the Anatolian Agency.
The demolitions are done under the pretext that residents do not have building permits in the village, he added.
“They want to get us out of our lands even though we have ownership documents that go back to the Ottoman era.”
Abu Farih stressed that even though the number of demolitions has reached an astounding 38, the villagers remain adamant on resisting the Israeli authorities.
“Every time they demolish our houses, we rebuild them and we will keep doing that even if the demolitions reach 99. We will never leave our land.”
Al-Araqeeb was last demolished on May 23 and like the previous times, the whole village was leveled to the ground and the contents of its houses were confiscated. Residents, however, keep rebuilding the houses whose number is estimated at 40.
Despite their perseverance, villagers admit to living in constant fear with their village at risk of another demolition any minute.
Villagers have so far not taken any official steps towards taking al-Araqeeb to Guinness but are planning to do so shortly. According to them, this initiative basically aims are drawing the world’s attention to the constant injustices and discriminatory practices to which they are subjected.
Al-Araqeeb is home to an ancient cemetery that dates back to hundreds of years ago and which residents consider an important evidence of their historic right to the village.
Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid
Suggested further reading on house demolishing
Demolishing Homes, Demolishing Peace
The new ICAHD publication ‘Demolishing Homes, Demolishing Peace: Political and Normative Analysis of Israel’s Displacement Policy in the OPT’ provides a political and normative analysis of the root causes and consequences of Israel’s displacement and demolition policy, focusing on the demolition of Palestinian homes and other structures in the occupied West Bank.