Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

Beer al Sabe, Israel – Dozens of Palestinian Bedouins were wounded in a crackdown by Israeli forces on a protest against continued Israeli forestry work on landowners say they own privately near the southern city of Beer al-Sabe (Beer Sheva).

About 500 protesters took part in Thursday’s protest, which began at 15:00 (13:00 GMT). They were encountered with hundreds of Israeli forces firing rubber-coated bullets, tear gas, stun grenades, as well as skunk water.

According to local media reports, at least 15 protesters were arrested. The protest took place at the entrance of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Sa’wa at a highway intersection on Route 31, east of Beer al-Sabe.

Huda Abu Obeid, a local activist, said police attacked the protest shortly after it began.

“They used a lot of violence, beatings; “There are people who were injured and others detained,” she told Al Jazeera.

The recent escalation began Monday when bulldozers from the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a quasi-government agency, arrived with heavy police protection in the nearby village of al-Atrash and swept down Bedouin farmland to plant trees. Israeli officials said the land being planted is state-owned.

Naqab protestsProtesters held up signs saying “The Naqab’s land is for its people” during Thursday’s rally [Al Jazeera]

Bedouin Palestinians protested against the move and confrontations have been going on for days. Videos and images shared on social media showed how Israeli forces violently arrested and beat up residents who turned up to defend the lands they use for wheat and barley.

At least seven people, including three children, were briefly detained Monday and a local journalist was beaten. Israeli forces on Tuesday demolished two sit-in tents in the villages of al-Atrash and al-Sa’wa, fired stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets and arrested about 20 people. Towns were also shut down, with residents barred from going in and out.

At least 80 Palestinians have been detained since the protests began, including minors, lawyers told Al Jazeera. The vast majority remain in custody.

Marwan Abu Freih, a lawyer representing some of the families and a field coordinator at the Adalah Human Rights Group, said: “There is a clear escalation.”

“It is unprecedented that JNF bulldozers show up with this amount of protection – hundreds of police, special forces and mounted police – it has never happened here before,” he told Al Jazeera.

He said police “blocked villages, set up checkpoints and stopped traffic – preventing people from going home and school buses from going in and out”.

‘Create facts on the ground’

The JNF has a mandate to develop and lease land only for Jews, and owns 13 percent of Israeli “state land.” State land makes up 93 percent of all land in Israel.

Abu Freih said the current JNF afforestation work would affect thousands of dunams of Bedouin land in the vicinity of Naqe al-Sabe, home to 28,000 residents living in six villages never recognized by the Israeli state.

He, along with residents, said that although many of the families lived on these lands before the creation of Israel in 1948 and some arrived there in the decades that followed, the lands were historically not registered with the state.

Between 1970 and 1979, Israeli authorities allowed residents to file for registration, which they did, but more than 40 years later, their landowner cases remain open in the Beer al-Sabe District Court, with little progress.

“Another ninety-nine percent of the cases have not yet been heard,” Abu Freih told Al Jazeera, adding that the JNF was “trying to create facts on the ground.”

Naqab protestsIsraeli forces use skunk water to quell Thursday’s protest [Al Jazeera]

Abu Obeid said the demands of the residents are clear.

“Recognize all the villages that are not recognized – the first on this list are those in the Naqe al-Sabe area,” she said.

“Second, Bedouin recognize ownership of their land, which they have owned and lived on since before Israel and before 1948,” she told Al Jazeera.

Some 300,000 Palestinian Bedouin, who own Israeli citizenship, live in the Naqab region, which makes up about half of the country’s land mass.

More than 90,000 of them live in at least 35 Israeli towns that are considered “unrecognized” towns that are threatened with demolition, with the state viewing them as “offenders”.

In 2019, Israeli authorities a plan announced to forcibly transfer 36,000 residents in unrecognized towns to other townships.

Authorities have refused to connect the majority of unrecognized villages to the national electricity or water networks and do not provide them with basic services, such as paved roads and sewerage systems.

Between 2013 and 2019, Israeli forces broken down more than 10,000 Bedouin houses in the Naqab.

‘Judaization’ of the Naqab

This week’s developments come as part of decades of Israeli government policy to “Judaize” the Naqab region through multi-million dollar development projects aimed at attracting more Jews to live in these areas, documented in Israeli official statements and plans, and human rights reports.

The Israel Land Authority (ISA), which administers the JNF, plans to plant about 45,000 dunams in the Naqab with trees “to preserve open spaces and nature from illegal control.” according to official Israeli statements.

The JNF makes up almost half of the ISA’s governing body, which controls the vast majority of land in Israel.

“The Israel Land Authority wants to keep land, which is their job. Bedouins are squatters, and one way to get them to stop doing this is by planting trees. They subcontract the JNF to carry out the work, ”said Alon Tal, an Israeli MP who worked for the JNF for more than a decade to oversee forestry. told Israeli media.

The majority of the land the JNF acquired from the state took place between 1949 and 1953, and is classified as “absent property” – belonging to Palestinian refugees expelled by Zionist militias to the state of Israel during the 1948 war to create.

Naqab protestsResidents have vowed to continue to confront the heavily armed Israeli forces that turn up every morning to allow forestry work [Al Jazeera]

Abu Freih said that although the lands zoned for forestry could be used to develop the unrecognized towns, authorities wanted to prevent it.

“They want to concentrate the largest number of Bedouins on the smallest mass of land,” and to “prevent the families from owning and farming their land”.

Meiqel al-Hawashli, field coordinator for the regional council of unrecognized Bedouin villages, agreed.

“The Naqab makes up about 13 million dunam (1.3 million hectares) of land. “There are 300,000 Bedouins living on only 400,000 dunams (40,000 hectares) of it,” he told Al Jazeera.

“All their projects in the Naqab have to go through unrecognized villages – the state does not want to recognize them, or people’s ownership of these lands,” Hawashli added.

As poaching and forestry work continues on these lands, residents have vowed to continue protesting and confronting the heavily armed Israeli forces that arrive every morning.

The Higher Follow-up Committee of Arabs in the Naqab, a local umbrella body, announced a general strike that began on Monday.

“We have taken the decision to take proactive measures, starting with the adoption of a cumulative resistance program over a period of six months that will lead to a general regional strike and a massive protest outside the prime minister’s office, and the internationalization of the issue of racist practices [of Israeli authorities] before international institutions, ”the committee said in a statement.

Mobilization is also taking place at the national level, with demonstrations organized on Thursday and Friday in the northern town of Umm al-Fahm, Kufr Kanna, and by Palestinian students at Tel Aviv University.

“They bring all these police because they know these countries belong to people,” Abu Obaid told Al Jazeera.

“They treat it as if no one lives here – as if there is no farming on this land every year.”

Source link

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *