15 hurt in clash over Beduin house demolitions

Two bulldozers enter unrecognized villages Sera and Nasara early Wednesday to tear down homes.

beduin shepherd 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
beduin shepherd 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Police clashed on Wednesday with Beduin protesting the demolition of two homes in the unrecognized villages of Sera and Nasara in the Negev, injuring 15 civilians and arresting five. The clash took place when two bulldozers, supported by police, entered the villages early in the morning to demolish two houses still under construction. The houses belonged to two men who had been building them for the past three years in anticipation of marriage. According to Ya'ala Ra'anan, of the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages, the men canceled their marriage plans after losing their homes. Ra'anan said the injured protesters were mainly women, many of them pregnant. They were taken to Beersheba's Soroka Hospital for treatment and two were still there on Wednesday evening. According to attorney Abdul Aziz Asasra, five youths were detained overnight. One of the injured, Mustafa Asasra, told The Jerusalem Post he had come to watch the demolitions together with other residents of the villages. "Suddenly, I noticed police provoking eight- and 10-year-olds," he said. "I went to one of the policemen and told him I'd calm things down. I also told him, 'You've already demolished the houses. Go home now.' "Then I saw another incident in which policemen were provoking children. I went over to them and tried to get the children to move away. In the meantime, a policeman struck me on the back of the neck with a club, using all his force. I fell to the ground." Asasra was taken to Soroka for treatment and released in the evening. Ra'anan said some of the children had thrown stones at the policemen and they had responded violently. According to Abdul Aziz Asasra, there are 100 homes in the two villages and all have received administrative demolition orders. Last week, government officials advised the two bachelors to demolish their houses by themselves, otherwise the authorities would charge them the cost of demolishing them. By the time the bulldozers arrived on Wednesday, the two homes had been partially destroyed by the owners. Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit announced recently that there would be a moratorium on the demolition of homes while the government implemented a sweeping plan to solve the land dispute between the Beduin in the unrecognized villages and the state. However, Abdul Aziz Asasra said that government officials had on Wednesday distributed administrative demolition orders to all of the houses in Tarabin, another unrecognized village. A police spokesman told the Post that he had not received reports of violence and that the police did not provide spokesman's services for the demolition of illegal housing.