Activist says state is not making advances on Negev Beduin

“Instead of recognizing these communities and guaranteeing their rights for basic educational and welfare services, the government is targeting them and adding to their historical suffering."

August 8, 2016 01:17
2 minute read.

BEDUIN TAKE part in a rally marking Land Day in Umm al-Hiran in March.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Israeli authorities appear to be moving slowly with plans to regulate Beduin settlement in the Negev, with one activist telling The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that the state “is not developing anything.”

Last week, police clashed with protesters that blocked construction work in Umm al-Hiran, enforcing government moves to implement the High Court approval of its demolition and the eviction of its residents in order to build the Jewish town of Hiran on the site. The residents were ruled to be illegally living on state land.

Amichai Yogev, southern director of the NGO Regavim – describing itself as seeking to ensure a responsible, legal and accountable use of the country’s land – said there is nothing new from the government side and that the confrontation was simply “Arabs trying to incite the Beduin.”

“They blocked a small tractor and attacked policemen,” said Yogev, adding that the tractor is not the large kind that can destroy houses. “It was all a show. Nothing is advancing because it takes time.”

Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen (Hadash) told the Post, “I fear that the government will intensify the policy of evacuating Arab villages in the Negev. We are witnessing attempts in recent weeks to evacuate Umm al-Hiran and Atir with their 1,500 inhabitants.”

In addition, Jabareen mentioned the unrecognized village of al-Arakib, which “has been destroyed more than one hundred times.”

“I have in my hand difficult pictures from my last visit there last week,” he added.

“Instead of recognizing these communities and guaranteeing their rights for basic educational and welfare services, the government is targeting them and adding to their historical suffering.

“We in the Joint List see that the next confrontation with the the authorities seems to be based on the escalation in the Negev and the ongoing plans to evacuate our community from their homes,” he said.

Salim Abu al-Kian, the head of the committee of the unrecognized villages of Umm al-Hiran and Atir, told the Post last month, “The state is against us and itself. Rightwing extremism is not good for Arabs or Jews.”

He cautioned the government against implementing the High Court approval to evict the residents of Umm al-Hiran, and replace their town with a Jewish settlement.

Yogev responded to Arab opposition saying, “Arab MKs hadn’t cared about the Beduin in the Negev and now suddenly they are worried about their humanitarian situation.”

If they are really concerned, he continued, they will tell them to relocate to recognized villages being built by the state and which will provide them with a higher quality of life.

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