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Photo by: REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Police arrest 19 in clashes over village demolition
By BEN HARTMAN
11/13/2012
Nineteen people were arrested during clashes between police and local residents at the Beduin village of Bir Hadaj.
 
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 clashes.

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 permits.

“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 vehicles.

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 Revivim.”

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.”

They 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.
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