Palestinians decry Israeli ‘crimes’ in Negev, urge Bedouins to revolt

The PA and the Palestinian factions called for stepping up the Bedouin protests against Israel’s practices in the Negev.

Israeli security forces clash with Bedouins during protest against forestation at the Negev desert village of Sawe al-Atrash, southern Israel, January 13, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)
Israeli security forces clash with Bedouins during protest against forestation at the Negev desert village of Sawe al-Atrash, southern Israel, January 13, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)

The Palestinian Authority and several Palestinian factions said on Thursday that they see the recent tensions in the Negev as part of Israeli measures against “all Palestinians,” including the Arab citizens of Israel.

Voicing full support for the Bedouin citizens of the Negev, the PA and the Palestinian factions called for stepping up the protests against Israel’s practices.

The tensions erupted this week when Bedouin citizens protested the planting of trees by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund on disputed lands in the Negev.

According to the Palestinians, the tree-planting in the Negev comes in the context of Israel’s “settlement policy” and “crimes” in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.

The PA and the Palestinian factions refer to the Arab Israelis, including the Bedouin, as “Palestinians” or “the Arabs of 1948.”

Israeli security forces on horses clash with Bedouins during protest against forestation at the Negev desert village of Sawe al-Atrash, southern Israel, January 13, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)Israeli security forces on horses clash with Bedouins during protest against forestation at the Negev desert village of Sawe al-Atrash, southern Israel, January 13, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)

Some of the factions called on the Bedouin citizens to launch an intifada (uprising) in protest of the Israeli attempts to confiscate “Arab-owned lands.”

“The crimes of the occupation state in the Negev are an extension of it war on the Palestinians,” the PA Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“The ministry strongly condemns the heinous crime committed by the occupation state against the Palestinian Arabs of the Negev and their lands and properties. This is a continuation of the war waged by Israel to destroy the future of Palestinian generations and force them to emigrate in order to replace them with settlers. The Palestinian people in the State of Palestine are paying a heavy price as a result of the same policy.”

Rouhi Fattouh, a senior official with the ruling Fatah faction, on Thursday condemned the “crimes” of Israel in the Negev. Fattouh accused Israel of working towards expelling the Bedouin from the Negev and seizing their lands.

“Our Palestinian people everywhere stand with our people in the Negev and support their steadfastness,” he said.

The PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) also likened the Israeli measures in the Negev to the ongoing tensions between the Palestinians, IDF soldiers and settlers in the West Bank.

The PFLP praised the Bedouin citizens for “rising up in rejection of [Israel’s] decision to confiscate their lands in favor of settlement projects.”

The PFLP called for “uniting all efforts to confront this new project, which is a repetition of what happened with our people in Khan al-Ahmar.”

KHAN AL-AHMAR is a Bedouin village located near Ma’aleh Adumim. In 2018, the High Court of Justice ruled that the village can be evicted because it was illegally constructed, a move that triggered a crisis and international outcry and resulted in the postponement of the demolition.

The PFLP called for a “heroic response” of the Bedouin citizens in the Negev to Israel’s alleged plan to seize their lands. It also called on the Bedouin citizens not to serve in the IDF.

“We call on the masses of our people to mobilize and participate widely in the demonstrations of anger that will start today [Thursday] and tomorrow [Friday] in the villages and towns of the occupied Negev,” the PFLP said.

Maher Mezher, member of the PFLP Politburo, said what is happening in the Negev is in the context of the “clash between all Palestinians and the occupation.”

Mezher told the Palestinian Quds Network website the Israeli “crimes in the Negev are a continuation of the frenzied onslaught of settlements and Judaization in Jerusalem and the West Bank, in addition to the siege of the Gaza Strip.”

Hamas also accused Israel of seeking to “Judaize” the Negev.

“The increase in Zionist policies to confiscate Palestinian lands through the so-called Jewish National Fund confirms once again that the policy of ethnic cleansing launched by the Zionist movement still governs the mentality of the Zionist entity,” said Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem.

He too urged the Bedouin in the Negev to step up their protests “to consolidate the Arab-Palestinian identity of the occupied territories.”

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) official Ahmed al-Mudalal said the Bedouin in the Negev and the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem are in a “state of confrontation with the occupation.”

“What is happening in the Negev is a crime against our people,” the PIJ official said. “The Zionist enemy is committing the crime of ethnic cleansing against our people in the occupied Negev and trying to impose its Zionist agenda on all the Palestinian lands.”

Mudalal claimed that the “victory achieved by the Palestinian resistance” during last year’s war between Israel and Hamas “restored unity to the Palestinian people in all places of their existence.”

PIJ spokesperson Tareq Ezz al-Din said there was “no difference” between the Negev, Jerusalem and the West Bank.

“What is happening in the Negev is happening in [the east Jerusalem neighborhood of] Sheikh Jarrah and [the West Bank village of] Beita,” Ezz al-Din told Quds Network. “The Palestinian factions and people must escalate the resistance in all its forms, first and foremost the armed struggle [against Israel].”