19 Beduin arrested for attacking JNF staff

Attacks may be related to a dispute over land ownership between the tribe and the state.

Nineteen Beduin men from the Talalka tribe in the Negev are being questioned by police after they were arrested earlier this week on suspicion of systematically attacking Jewish National Fund staff and damaging property.
The Beersheba Magistrate’s Court on Sunday extended the suspects’ remand by five to 10 days, and police are continuing to gather evidence with the aim of enabling state prosecutors to indict them, a police spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Police suspect the attacks on the JNF employees were part of a dispute over land ownership between the tribe and the state. The men are suspected of attempted murder, arson, endangering lives on the roads, extortion, attacking public workers and vandalism, police said.
The arrests followed several incidents in which state workers,including JNF staff, were attacked and threatened, and had theirvehicles set on fire, police said. Thousands of trees were vandalizedor uprooted, they added.
“We believe these incidents are part of a fight over lands between thesuspects and the state, and the aim of the attacks was to instill fearand prevent state authorities from carrying out their duties,” theNegev police district’s central unit said on Sunday.
“The investigation is still very much ongoing. We are working toward anindictment that will result in convictions that serve as a deterrent,”Supt. Liat Nidam, of the southern police district, told thePost on Tuesday.
Cmdr. Yochanan Danino, head of the southern district, ordered itscentral unit, which is headed by Ch.-Supt. Lior Zohar, to launch anundercover investigation into the attacks several months ago. Threehundred officers took part in the raids early on Sunday.
“This morning, we are completing a long line of successful lawenforcement activities,” Danino said during a briefing for officersbefore the raids.
In April 2009, two Beduin men aged 22 were indicted at the BeershebaMagistrate’s Court on Wednesday for going on a vandalism rampage at theUNESCO-recognized Uvdat archaeological park. According to police, themen, Hassan and Ahmad al-Marrak, were motivated by a desire avenge thedemolition of illegal structures by the state. The demolishedstructures belonged to the suspects’ clan, police added.