Beduin allege that police beat pregnant women during clash

Riots erupted as officials arrived to deliver demolition orders.

beduin 88 (photo credit: )
beduin 88
(photo credit: )
A Beduin mob clashed with police in the Negev village of Al-Mashash Tuesday afternoon, leaving 12 Beduin lightly wounded, including three pregnant women and a cameraman. The women and other wounded residents were taken to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba. Twelve policemen were also wounded when they were hit by rocks thrown by the angry crowd. Police arrested 14 people. The clash began when Interior Ministry officials, accompanied by police, arrived in the Beduin village, located between Dimona and Beersheba, to deliver demolition orders to residents of illegally constructed buildings. Police said the officials were met by an angry mob, mostly men whose faces were covered by scarves and T-shirts. Stones were thrown at the policemen, who fired warning shots in the air. According to eyewitnesses from the village, however, after several hours of failed negotiations and rising tension, the residents formed a ring around some of the houses designated for demolition. Police then began firing into the air. Some people said they also saw special forces aiming at legs or at the ground. The men fled from the village when the police, according to the residents, charged with helmets, shields and clubs. The police then beat women and some of the men who remained behind. Police later tried to prevent one woman from calling ambulances. Once the ambulances arrived, police impeded them from entering the village for some time, residents claimed. Wahda Abu Fbet, who is in her sixth month of pregnancy, said she was beaten by police, who broke into her home, overturning and breaking furniture. When The Jerusalem Post arrived there later that evening, the house was still in a state of disarray. Wahda and her sister-in-law Mona al-Sana, in her ninth month of pregnancy, who was also beaten, arrived at Soroka Hospital with 11 other alleged victims of police violence. Another pregnant woman, Njid Abu Fbet, was also said to have been injured by the police. According to the hospital spokeswoman, none of them were wounded by gunfire, all suffered from beatings. Hamed al-Sana, Mona's father, suffered a heart attack, allegedly after being beaten. Other injured villagers chose not to come to the hospital for fear of being arrested. Among those injured was a Beduin Channel 3 reporter from Rahat. He said he was also attacked by police and his camera was broken. Police later returned to the site to collect shell casings, according to the residents, who believe they were trying to get rid of the evidence. "What can be worse than being harmed by your own country," said Hamed Abu Fbet. Mansour Abu Fbet, another family member, said, "Israel is a state pretending to be a model democracy, but it specializes in trampling human rights." MK Taleb a-Sanaa called for the immediate resignation of Southern District police chief Cmdr. Uri Bar-Lev for what he called "the brutal and violent behavior against the women and children of Al-Mashash."