Nineteen people were arrested during clashes between police and local residents
at the Beduin village of Bir Hadaj on Monday.
Activists said as many as
30 schoolchildren were treated for tear gas inhalation following the
According to residents, government inspectors came to the
village on Monday to hand out demolition orders for a number of buildings,
accompanied by a large contingent of police.
Residents and activists said
that clashes began at the scene and police used excessive force in breaking up
the melee, including the use of rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas that
was fired near an elementary school.
Attorney Ruwia Aburabia of the
Association for Civil Rights in Israel said that while Bir Hadaj has been a
recognized village for almost a decade and has a master plan for its
construction, the residents face great difficulty in receiving building
“Residents want to build in a normal and legal way, and the
government can’t prevent them from doing so and then send police forces into the
village,” Aburabia said.
“It’s hard to explain the brutality of the
police and how the authorities behaved.”
The Negev District Police on
Monday dismissed the allegations of brutality and excessive force, saying that
the villagers arrested were “masked, violent lawbreakers of the worst type who
systematically ignore the rule of law.”
Police said that when their
officers arrived at the village, “dozens of youths began throwing a massive
amount of rocks at the security forces, burning tires and damaging police
They also threw rocks at cars on Highway 222 posing a grave
danger to human life.
They also set fire to property on nearby Kibbutz
Police maintained that the clashes took place some 300 meters
away from the school – not inside as had been reported on Monday – adding that
they will show zero tolerance toward “lawbreakers who use violence.”
also sent out photos that appear to show tires burning on a road near the
village, as well as a road that seems to be littered with rocks.