Beduin Israelis and their supporters who staged violent protests across the
country on Saturday against the Beduin resettlement bill claimed police abuse on
The controversial Prawer- Begin bill, meant to regulate Beduin
settlement in the Negev, is currently being debated in the Knesset, and the
demonstrators seek to stop the plan.
The Association for Civil Rights in
Israel (ACRI) on Sunday called the police use of force at the protests
“excessive,”, and ACRI Executive Director Hagai El-Ad said police conduct
“follows recent police attempts to intimidate the organizers of the day’s
demonstrations, held to support Beduin rights. These actions reinforce the
state’s disregard for the Beduin population – for its right to free speech and
its right to equality under the law.”
On Thursday, ACRI along with Adalah
– The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent a letter to Israel
Police Chief Yohanan Danino and Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, calling on
them to immediately stop the police and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency)
practice of calling activists in ahead of protests to warn them.
District police said on Sunday that they couldn’t remember an event with as much
intensity as the protest against the Prawer plan in Hura Saturday
When asked about video and images of a 14-year-old boy arrested by
police at the protest, Negev Subdistrict spokeswoman Navah Tabo, who said her
leg remained bandaged after she was hit by a rock thrown by protesters at Hura,
issued a statement on behalf of police saying that “following the serious
violence directed against police at Hura, these pictures, which will be
examined, do not portray the full reality of police risking their lives in the
face of Molotov cocktails and rocks.
“The youth in the picture is a
14-year-old boy who was observed by police throwing rocks at them and at police
She added that the boy was at on a remand extension at the
time and suspected of throwing rocks and disturbing the peace.
Prawer-Begin bill is a five-year economic development initiative seeking to
regulate Beduin settlement in the South. It aims for a compromise solution for
tens of thousands of Beduin currently scattered in unrecognized villages
throughout the Negev, legalizing 63 percent of claimed land.
supporters oppose the bill because they say the legislation would result in up
to 40,000 Beduin losing their land.
Opponents on the Right criticize the
bill as being too generous, saying that the state is giving away land for free
that the Beduin could not prove to be theirs in court.
Minister Danny Danon (Likud) told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that the
Prawer-Begin bill should be “frozen in light of the violent unruliness by an
entire population motivated by extremists that incite against the rule of law.”
He said that these recent events “prove to us that even after we reach an
agreement after difficult and serious work, their groundless claims over the
lands would not be satisfied.”
Bayit Yehudi MK Zvulun Kalfa said that
Saturday’s violence was a continuation of the behavior of the Arab MKs in the
Knesset over the past weeks. During the discussions in the Interior Committee,
they interrupted speakers who did not agree with them.
The same kind of
behavior of the MKs in the Knesset continued into the streets, he
Amichai Yogev, southern regional director of the NGO Regavim –
which describes itself as seeking to ensure responsible, legal and accountable
use of the country’s land – told the Post on Sunday that in the past the Beduin
were not talked about as part of the Palestinian political
However, over time they began to claim the Beduin issue as part
of the conflict, he said.
“After 1967, the Arabs started to demand
Samaria and then came to make demands in the Negev and that all of Palestine is
Twelve percent of the Beduin will get most of the land according
to the plan, while the rest will get nothing except a plot for their home,” said
“They could not win according to the law and the courts, so now
they use violence to get what they want,” he said.
Reuma Schlesinger, of
the pro-Beduin NGO Bimkom, told the Post that with regard to the argument that
the Beduin are not part of the greater Palestinian people, “Ask the Beduin
themselves what they want.
“From our experience working with the Beduin
for years, we find the rejection of the plan to be resolute,” she
“There is no need to kick people out of their homes, but instead
they should be recognized,” said Schlesinger, adding that Bimkom has created an
alternative plan that was created by professionals with the cooperation of the
Beduin community. This plan calls for an agreement with the Beduin that
recognizes the villages where they are now, not a onesided law, she
“The bill as it is now is terrible. The Beduin did not have
an opportunity to participate in making it,” she said.