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Whilst the world is distracted by Israeli and American sabre rattling against Iran, the Israeli state continues with its day-to-day business of ethnically cleansing and oppressing of the Palestinians.
Bedouin communities are among the most vulnerable. Bedouin in the Naqab (Negev) desert, southern Israel, staged protests on Thursday against the continued aggression of the Israeli state, which last week raided the village of Bir Hadaj and handed out demolition orders against four homes.
According to the human rights organisation Adalah, the Israeli military declared the village a “closed fire zone” to allow the Israel Land Administration (ILA) to serve its demolition orders. Officials from the ILA were accompanied by representatives of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), who are active partners in the policy of forcible transfer currently being exacted on Bedouin communities from the Naqab to the Jordan Valley.
The demolitions are an extension of the Prawer Plan, approved in 2011 and the creation of former Chair of the National Security Council Ehud Prawer. Under the initiative 70,000 Bedouin's will be displaced from the Naqab and concentrated into purpose-built townships, a la apartheid South Africa. Palestinian Bedouin in the Naqab remain steadfast and rebuild - but it is surely only a matter of time before the security apparatus of the Israeli state cranks up a gear.
In response to the demolition orders, people in Bir Hadaj demonstrated by burning tyres- they were met by baton wielding Israeli police who fired tear-gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition. Cops also broke into the village school, striking terror into the children. They left after arresting three residents and injuring several others.
Many communities in the Naqab are termed 'unrecognised villages' (although Bir Hadaj actually has 'recognised' status) because the Israeli state refuses to acknowledge their existence and provides no services to them – not even roads. Instead they demolish. The village of al-Araqib was flattened for the 43rd time in two years on 19th October. The JNF (Jewish National Fund) plans to plant a forest on the land of al-Araqib; in 2011 Amnesty International witnessed bulldozers emblazoned with JNF flags preparing land for planting.
The Prawer Plan is mirrored in the occupied West Bank, where the Israeli Civil Administration has told UN OCHA that it will forcibly remove Bedouin communities living in areas under full Area C. It is believed the plan will take place in two phases. The first, which was scheduled to start at the beginning of 2012, involves the eviction of al-Jahalin Bedouin communities living on the peripheries of East Jerusalem. Phase two encompasses the Bedouin communities living in the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley and South Hebron Hills.
Area C are those parts of the West Bank controlled and administered directly by the Israeli Civil Administration (see map). This state of affairs evolved out of the supposedly interim Oslo Peace Accords signed between Israel and the PLO in 1993. Despite the lack of a peace deal, these measures remain in place. Area C – containing Israel's illegal settlements - form over half the West Bank and Palestinians living there face constant struggle against the Israeli military and police. Cities such as Nablus, Jericho and Ramallah are designated as Area A and controlled by the puppet regime of Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian National Authority.
Demolitions in Area C have accelerated dramatically in the past few years and if the demolition rates for 2012 continue at their current pace they will exceed the scale of 2011, when 1, 095 people were made homeless by Israel. The Israeli Civil Administration claims that homes in the Bedouin communities are illegal as they were built without permits, but the Civil Administration refuses to issue permits for non-Jewish construction in Area C.
Many of the al-Jahalin Bedouin are refugees from the Naqab, forced to flee during the violent creation of Israel in 1947-48. Some families have been given brief respite with a Hight Court ruling in June that the re-location cannot take place until an environmental impact assessment due to it's proximity to the Jerusalem Municipal Dump (sited illegally on land stolen from Palestinians). More than one thousand tons of rubbish are trucked to the site daily and pipes protrude from the waste releasing methane. However, this freeze is no act of clemency and eviction is imminent - the new area of re-location the only matter to be ironed out.
When the plans are in full stream Israel will quietly build a metropolis right into the heart of the West Bank, creating what Israeli ministers call 'territorial contiguity' between the settlement of Mishor Adumim and Jerusalem, leaving the West Bank divided north and south. This may spell the formal end of the two state solution and the 'peace process' such as it is, leaving the Palestinians with nothing more than bantustans controlled by Israel and isolated them from the outside world.
Visit the following links for more information on:
the Prawer Plan http://adalah.org/eng/?mod=articles&ID=1589
Bedouin's in Area C http://www.btselem.org/settlements/20111010_forced_eviction_of_bedouins
Jordan Valley evictions http://www.jordanvalleysolidarity.org
The Jahalin Bedouin - http://jahalin.org/
the Jewish National Fund http://www.stopthejnf.org/
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