Occupied: Headlines From Palestine

Blogging From Gaza, Palestine


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Ethnic Cleansing: Israeli Occupation Orders Palestinian Village To Be Demolished After Ramadan

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities ordered the demolition of homes in a village south of Hebron to be carried out after Ramadan, Israeli watchdogs said on Wednesday.Rabbis for Human Rights and B’Tselem said in a statement that pressure from Israeli settlers had led to the decision to carry out demolition orders in the village of Khirbet Susiya after Ramadan, although a high court hearing regarding the case is currently scheduled for August 3.The Israeli Civil Administration, the Israeli army, and the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) office announced the demolition order to the villagers in a meeting on Sunday.Khirbet Susiya has been under imminent threat of demolition since May, when the Israeli High Court approved the demolition of the villagers’ homes and tents and possible relocation of the villages around 300 Bedouin residents.The court case has been ongoing since 2012, when residents of Khirbet Susiya applied for the Israeli Civil Administration to approve an outline plan for northern part of the village.Susiya villagers reportedly built homes in 1986 on agricultural land they owned, after being evicted by Israel from their previous dwellings on land declared as an archaeological site.Situated in Area C, an area covering 60 percent of the West Bank which is under full Israeli control, villagers of Khirbet Susiya must apply for construction permits from the Israeli Civil Administration.In practice only a handful of Palestinian applications for construction or expansion on existing structures are approved, with only six percent of Palestinian building permit requests granted by Israel between 2000 and 2012.Unable to get “legal” permission, Palestinians are faced with either leaving or building illegally.Since 1988 Israeli forces have issued more than double the amount of demolition orders to Palestinians in Area C than they have to illegal Israeli settlements in the area.Israeli settlers living illegally in the area according to international law already control over 300 hectares of Khirbet Susiya’s land, B’Tselem reports. Rabbis for Human Rights alleges that the newest threat is a form of coercion that aims to expel residents of the area already before the court hearing.The head of the Susiya village council Jihad al-Nawajaa said the residents have been asked to be evacuated on the pretext that the village lacks sufficient infrastructure for living. Meanwhile, the Israeli government provides the necessary services to the nearby Israeli settlement of Susiya.Last year Israel demolished 590 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, displacing 1,177 people, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).The upcoming demolition of Khirbet Susiya comes while member of Israel’s right wing government are pushing a plan to forcibly relocate tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouins.Approved without any consultation with the Bedouin community, the plan would evict nearly 40,000 Bedouins from their villages and force them to live in concentrated areas that critics called “reservations.”Israel currently refuses to recognize 35 Bedouin villages in the Negev, which collectively house nearly 90,000 people.


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Palestinian Government Pledges Support For Bedouin Community Facing Ethnic Cleansing By Israel

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Sunday pledged $50,000 to the Bedouin community of Abu Nuwwar east of Jerusalem that is currently facing forced displacement by Israeli forces.

Hamdallah made the pledge during a high-profile visit to the Palestinian community in the company of four government ministers, the EU envoy to the Palestinian Territories John Gatt-Rutter, and UN Humanitarian Coordinator James W. Rawley.”We came to visit you today… to show solidarity and to support our people in the Bedouin dwellings who have shown legendary steadfastness facing (Israel’s) displacement and transfer plans,” Hamdallah said during the visit.

Two weeks ago, dozens of Palestinian families living in Abu Nuwwar were told they would be forced from their land in less than a month to clear way for the expansion of the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim.Abu Nuwwar is one of several Bedouin villages facing evacuation due to plans by Israeli authorities to build thousands of homes for Jewish-only settlements in the so-called E1 corridor.

Settlement construction in E1 would effectively divide the West Bank and make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state — as envisaged by the internationally backed two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — almost impossible.Hamdallah said Sunday that the Palestinian government and President Mahmoud Abbas were making efforts at an international level to prevent the displacement of Palestinian Bedouin families, which he said was “a blatant violation of the principles of human rights.” He added that Israel’s “targeting” of Palestinians in Area C extended to “46 Bedouin communities, 70 percent of whom are refugees.”Also in attendance were Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Adnan al-Husseini, Minister of Endowment Yousif Ideis, Minister of Health Jawad Awwad, and Minister of Local Government Nayif Abu Khalaf. International consuls and heads of diplomatic missions also reportedly took part in the visit.Israeli authorities have tried urging the Palestinian families to move to another location, but the Palestinians have said that they will turn down any Israeli offer and will remain in their land in Abu Nuwwar.Israeli action in E1 has attracted widespread international condemnation, and President Mahmoud Abbas has said that “E1 is a red line that cannot be crossed.”The imminent forced displacement of Abu Nuwwar residents comes as newly elected Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said earlier this week that a High Court ruling to destroy the Bedouin village of Umm Hiran and replace it with Jewish housing was “not discriminatory,” reported Israeli news source Haaretz.Justice Minister Shaked is one of many rightwingers in Netanyahu’s recently formed coalition who promote settlement expansion in occupied East Jerusalem and across the West Bank, and openly oppose the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.Shaked is member to the Habayit Hayehudi party which conditioned joining Netanyahu’s coalition on reinstating the Prawer plan to permanently resettle the Bedouin, which would potentially forcibly displace up to 70,000 Bedouins living in the Negev.


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UN Officials: Israeli Occupation Must Halt Plans To Ethnically Cleanse Palestinian Bedouins

JERUSALEM, May 20, 2015 (WAFA) – The Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, James Rawley, and the Director of UNRWA Operations West Bank, Felipe Sanchez expressed grave concern on Wednesday over recent Israeli plans to transfer Palestinian Bedouins in the central West Bank from their current communities.

The UN Secretary-General has recently expressed concern in a report of March 2015 that ‘plans to transfer thousands of Bedouin and herders… may also be connected with settlement expansion.”

“The Bedouins and herders are at risk of forcible transfer, a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as multiple human rights violations.”

On 28 April, residents of Abu Nwar were informed that some families would have to move to the al-Jabal area outside of East Jerusalem, where the Israeli authorities have been preparing the ground for the past months.

‘Israeli practices in Area C, including a marked increase of demolitions and confiscations of donor-funded structures in the first quarter of 2015, have compounded an already untenable situation for Bedouin communities,’ said Rawley.

Abu Nwar is one of 46 Palestinian Bedouin communities (7,000 people, 70 percent of whom are Palestine refugees) in Area C slated for transfer to three proposed ‘relocation’ sites.

‘For Abu Nwar, or any other communities in the immediate E-1 vicinity, this would represent a continuation of developments that commenced in 1997 when Palestine refugees were loaded on trucks and taken to the same urban site in Eizariya, after which an illegal settlement was constructed on their former land,’ said Sanchez.

‘History has shown us that these transfers have not proven to be in the interests of the Bedouin communities,’ he added.

The UNOCHA considered the plan to be part of a “discriminatory zoning and planning regime that facilitates the development of illegal Israeli settlements at the expense of Palestinians, for whom it is almost impossible to obtain permits for construction.”

“Instead, they live in constant fear of eviction and home demolitions. The forced urbanization of Bedouin communities in the three relocation sites would destroy their culture and livelihoods,” said UNOCHA in its statement.

‘There is also concern over the strategic implications of these plans, given that many of the communities are located in areas slated for further Israeli settlement, including the E1 plan, which has long been viewed as an obstacle to the realization of a two-state solution’, said Rawley.

‘We are fast approaching the point of irreparable damage,’ advised Sanchez. ‘As occupying power, Israel is obligated to ensure the wellbeing of these communities and to respect international law.”

He strongly urged the Israeli authorities to halt all plans and practices that will directly or indirectly lead to the forcible transfer of the Bedouin and call on the international community to support the Bedouins’ wish to remain where they are, pending their return to the Negev, and prevent this transfer from occurring.’

M.N/M.H


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More Religious Tolerance Israeli Style: Occupation Forces Demolish Mosque In Bedouin Village

BEERSHEBA (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Tuesday demolished a mosque under construction in the Bedouin village of Wadi al-Niam near Beersheba, locals said.  Heavily guarded bulldozers entered the village accompanied by dozens of Israeli police officers from the southern command and demolished the foundation of the mosque.  Labbad Abu Affash, a local committee chief, told Ma’an that Israeli forces demolish part of a home or other structure in the village every week.

In some cases, families demolish their own houses to avoid paying the heavy fines imposed by Israel.  “There has been a vicious crackdown against our village in an attempt to force us to move to the town of Shaqib al-Salam instead of recognizing our village which is home to 14,000,” Abu Affash said.  Wadi al-Niam is not recognized by the Israeli state and so lacks all basic services such as water.

A toxic dump and military firing zone have also been built in the area where the community lives.  It is among some 40 Negev villages that Israeli authorities have deemed unrecognized, arguing that the 53,000 Palestinian Bedouins living in them cannot prove land ownership.  Some 100 homes in unrecognized villages have been demolished since the beginning of 2015, while Israeli authorities have issued demolition notices to hundreds of others.


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Israeli Supreme Court Confirms: Israel Has Been A Colonialist Entity Since 1948

Israeli colonialism, plain and simple

In two court decisions involving shoving Palestinians off their land, Supreme Court justices have confirmed what Israel’s critics are saying: that Israel has been a colonialist entity since 1948.

There is a straight line connecting the Palestinian village of Sussia in the southern West Bank and Atir/Umm al-Hiran, a Bedouin community in the Negev. This was highlighted last week by the justices of the Supreme Court. These are two communities of Palestinians that the Jewish state expelled from their homes and land decades ago, and whose families have lived ever since in “unrecognized” villages in shameful humanitarian conditions, forced on them by the Israeli government. One community settled on its agricultural land and the other in an area that the government moved them to during the early years of the state, when the Arabs citizens were under military rule.

These are two Palestinian communities that Israel is depriving of their planning rights. Instead, it demands of them to crowd in the pales of settlement it has allotted to them, so Jews can fulfill and rejoice and thrive in their new and expanding suburban fantasies.

The justices have allowed the state to demolish these two Palestinian communities, which are just 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) apart, but are separated by Israel’s 1967 border, the Green Line. On May 4, Justice Noam Sohlberg allowed the state, the Israel Defense Forces and the IDF Civil Administration to demolish Sussia’s tents, tin shacks and livestock pens as they see fit. The community petitioned against the Civil Administration’s decision to reject the master plan it had prepared, and what would be more natural than to stop home demolitions while the hearing of its case was still going on? But without a hearing, Sohlberg rejected the request filed by the community’s representatives – lawyers of Rabbis for Human Rights – for an interim injunction suspending implementation of demolition orders.

The Civil Administration is demanding that the residents of Palestinian Sussia relocate close to the West Bank Palestinian town of Yata, purportedly for their own good. Yata is in Area A, an enclave under the control of the Palestinian Authority. In other words, the CA intends to squeeze Sussia in one of the West Bank’s Bantustans, as it does and intends to do with Bedouin and other Palestinians who live in Area C, under total Israeli control.

In good faith?

Next to the tin shacks of today’s Palestinian Sussia (after the army expelled the residents of their ancient village in 1986 and turned it into an archaeological site where Jews could celebrate), Jewish Susya now wallows in its greenery and abundance. After all, it has to grow and doesn’t want to see Arabs living in shacks and buying water at exorbitant prices from tanker trucks.

Can a judge who permits demolition work to be carried out as an interim step then in good faith consider a petition challenging the residents’ final expulsion? And is it relevant that Sohlberg is a resident of a West Bank Jewish settlement?

It is no more and no less relevant than the fact that the other justices of the Supreme Court and their families, and every other Jewish Israeli (including myself), are entitled at any time to move to a West Bank Jewish settlement, and that they – we – live on the Israeli side of the Green Line in manicured neighborhoods for Jews only and in some instances on land from which Palestinians were expelled 65 years ago or yesterday.

On May 5, two other Supreme Court justices, Elyakim Rubinstein and Neal Hendel, allowed the authorities to demolish the unrecognized village of Atir/Umm al-Hiran. In the face of opposition from their fellow justice, Daphne Barak-Erez, they dismissed a petition filed by the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel that challenged the state’s decision to expel the residents for a second time, from the location to which they were expelled in the 1950s. Go to Hura, the state tells them, and the justices agree – to that Bedouin township that, like similar townships, was designated to condense Bedouins after their primary expulsion from their land. After all, how can we set up expansive farms for Jews and build pioneering communities such as Hiran if we recognize the Bedouin as citizens with rights, history and heritage?

The honorable justices were ingratiating Habayit Hayehudi even before this party was selected as the fox that guards the hen-house – through its appointment of Uri Ariel as the agriculture minister (who is in also in charge of Bedouin affairs) and Eli Ben-Dahan as a deputy defense minister responsible for the Civil Administration (which carries out the expulsion of Palestinians and the settlement of Jews in the West Bank). Don’t worry, you folks at the Jewish Home, we support the right of Jews to disposes Palestinians in Area C and the Negev, so say the judges. We, like you, are in favor of crowding the Arabs into Bantustans.

Even before the Supreme Court justices knew that Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) would be the next justice minister, even before they knew that her mentor, party leader Naftali Bennett, would be entrusted with the education of our children as education minister, they were telling us in a loud voice that the justices’ reputation was not what people feared, that the right wing has unjustly portrayed them as a monster seeking equality and justice. The justices had proven that their image as defenders of human rights, even if those humans were Palestinians or left-wing, had been totally twisted.

Just weeks before, on April 15, they had enthusiastically embraced the Boycott Law. That’s the law through which the right wing is threatening with financial penalties left-wing Israeli dissidents who publicly support sanctions on Israel and a boycott of its institutions and settlement products, as part of the struggle against institutionalized inequality and discrimination.

That very day, the justices endorsed the law that permits Israel to rob land owned by residents of Bethlehem, Beit Sahur, Beit Jala and Abu Dis. The land is where it has always been since before it was annexed to Israeli-ruled Jerusalem. Its owners remain living where they always did – a few kilometers away from their private land. But now the state declares them “absentees”: beyond the separation barrier.

The justices dismissed the petition challenging the application of the Absentee Property Law in their case, thus continuing the tradition from the 1950s. That is when we coined the oxymoron “present absentees” in order to facilitate the demolition of villages and robbery of land of Palestinians that remained, those that we failed to expel.

In the justices’ consent to the demolition of Sussia and Umm al-Hiran, they have drawn a direct line linking 1948 to today. They have confirmed what Israel’s most virulent critics say about the country – that it is a colonialist, dispossessing entity. The justices have parroted what the state has been screaming all along: It’s my right to dispossess, my right to expel, my right to demolish and crowd people into pens. I have demolished and will continue to do so. I have expelled and will continue to expel. I have crowded people in and will continue to do so. I never gave a damn and never will do.

 


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Israeli Occupation Charges Bedouin Village $500,000 For Demolitions After They Razed It 83 Times

Mondoweiss

The unrecognized Bedouin village of al-Araqib was in court Wednesday, where the state of Israel argued the southern desert town must pay $500,000 [2 million Israeli Shekels] to cover the cost of demolitions, and more than 1,000 police deployed to carry out the destruction. Since 2010 al-Araqib has been razed to the ground 83 times, more than any other locality in Israel.

In Israel around half of the Bedouin population, 90,000 Arab-Palestinians herders, live in towns the state does not view as legitimate. Without “recognition,” these villages are pre-approved for demolition. In al-Araqib’s case additional legal battles over land ownership prompted Israel to issue the entire desert hamlet the mass eviction order. The state claims it legally expropriated the territory using Ottoman code still on the books during the 1950s. Al-Araqib’s residents still have copies of their old deeds and say they are valid and up to date.

While individual owners have been charged with the cost of demolishing a home in the past, this is the first case in Israel’s history where an entire town was told it must pay for its destruction. In instances when Israel demolished settlements, outposts the state viewed as illegally construction in the West Bank, those Jewish-Israeli towns were never later given a bill.

“[Jewish] Israelis were never sued before for the cost of these demolitions,” Khaled Sawalhi, an attorney representing al-Araqib, told me. Sawalhi has tried dozens of demolitions cases throughout his career. He underscored al-Araqib is unique in that could set a costly precedent for 45 other unrecognized villages facing demolition where land ownership is contested.

Israel has demolished more than 27,000 homes in the occupied Palestinian territory since its occupation began in 1967. When the state demanded Palestinians pay for the razing of the structures, the Civil Administration or the city of Jerusalem set the fees. In al-Araqib’s case, the fee is being demanded by the Israeli Lands Administration, a government agency that oversees state owned plots, and that is the plaintiff in a petition filed by the village.

“There is no justice in the way the state is handling it. We have proof that this land is theirs and that it is private property,” Sawalhi said.

After more demolitions than any other village in Israel, and rebuilding their homes just as many times, al-Araqib’s residents are now cramped in tents between gravestones. Since the demolitions began more than a decade ago, residents have moved into the town’s cemetery. Villagers do not see resting next to a headstone as morbid; camping is regarded as a creative measure to pose a challenge to Israel’s frequent demolitions.

“I hope that Ayman Odeh [a leading politician and head of the Joint Arab List] will do something,” al-Araqib resident Aziz Abu Madegam, 41, told Mondoweiss, lamenting, “I don’t believe that in this government he can change Israel’s politics.”

Abu Madegam was born and raised in al-Araqib and is one of the town’s most prominent activists against the demolitions. He lives in a small tent in the graveyard with his wife and six children. They own a car, and sometimes Abu Madegam sleeps there when the weather turns cold and rainy. His youngest son, age three, is named al-Araqib after the village. “He was born at the same time, the same minute that they [Israel] demolished al-Araqib,” Abu Madegam said.

Aside from the demolitions Abu Madegam’s family is constantly entangled in legal woes. The state dropped criminal charges against Abu Madegam’s father for “forcibly taking control” of al-Araqib’s land “failing to obey orders to leave the land,” last February.

In a separate case pressed by the Israeli Lands Administration, Abu Madegam is one of ten al-Araqib residents charged with a combined $1,300 [5,000 NIS] in daily fines. Those damages are for “arona,” or back rental fees in which the state has demanded payment even though the question of who owns the land has been locked up in court for years. Al-Araqib’s residents see these battles as attempts by Israel to drive them off of their land permanently.

Abu Madegam will be back in court this fall in late September– when the $500,000 penalty trial opens.

– See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/05/bedouin-village-demolitions?utm_campaign=trueanthem&utm_content=554fd65304d30135a0000001&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter#sthash.joyIUi0t.dpuf


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Israeli Occupation Destroys Bedouin Agricultural Crops In Negev

BEERSHEBA (Ma’an) — Israeli police on Tuesday destroyed thousands of acres of wheat, barley and other cereal crops in the Palestinian Bedouin village of Rakhama, locals told Ma’an.Ali Freijat, a local resident, said that 14 tractors escorted by over 50 Israeli police vehicles arrived early Tuesday and began leveling the land.

“This is vandalism through which they plan to displace the Bedouins from the Negev so as to create a Jewish state free of Arabs. However, my message to them is that if you turn over the land a million times, and if you demolish our homes a thousand times we will continue to live on this land and won’t allow any body to take it from us.”

The land that was leveled was granted by the Israeli state to compensate the loss of land resulting from forced displacement in 1954, Freijat said.

“Since 1983, there have been deliberations over our ownership and our right to this land, and in 2007 the supreme court decided that they (Israeli authorities) should reach a settlement with us, but so far they haven’t.”

“We are talking about 25,000 dunums (about 6,000 acres) of wheat, barley and other crops. They demand that we rent this land from the Israeli land authority but we definitely oppose that because by doing so we recognize that we have no rights to this land.”

Bedouins in Israel live in 45 unrecognized villages scattered primarily in the region between Beersheba and Arad. They are the remnants of the Bedouin population that lived across the Negev Desert until 1948, when 90 percent were expelled by Israel and the remainder confined to a closed reservation.

In 2013, authorities said that the homes of the 1,500 residents of the village were to be demolished because the area had been converted into a closed military zone.

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Goal of Bedouin Relocation: To Expel As Many Palestinians From Their Land As Possible

Forced relocation plan decrees overcrowding for West Bank Bedouin. Nearby Jewish settlements, meanwhile, sprawl free.
By Amira Hassfor Haaretz

Pages upon pages came out of the fax machine at the Civil Administration’s Central Planning Bureau last week. They contained objections to the establishment of a Bedouin township to be named Talet Nueima (in Hebrew, Ramat Nueima) north of Jericho, which is slated for 12,500 people. This comes on top of objections sent in by registered mail and email.

The Civil Administration subcommittee that deals with such objections will have to read more than 200 objections. Opponents of the plan include Bedouin from the Kaabneh and Jahalin tribes, whom the Civil Administration plans to expel from their homes and resettle in the township together with the Rashaida tribe which is already based in the area. Jericho and nearby Palestinian villages object to the plan as well.

The objectors are represented by the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center; Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights; the Association for Civil Rights in Israel; and attorneys Sliman Shahin, Basem Karajeh, Tawfek Jabarin and Shlomo Lecker.

An oft-repeated objection is that the Civil Administration drafted the Talet Nueima plan without consulting the Bedouin or the Palestinian communities in the area, and without taking their needs into consideration.

Dozens of private individuals and activists in Israel/Palestine and abroad have also sent in standard objections to the plan.

The Hebrew standard objection states, among other things, that: “The plan disregards the cultural characteristics of Bedouin society – including the division of the family complex, to which entrance is highly restricted.” The objections note that the families “take great care to guard their privacy, and the privacy of women in particular.”

According to this argument: “Allowing this part of their culture to exist requires spatial planning that completely contradicts what the plan contains. Instead of small two-family lots of a half dunam each, the lots must be much larger and include a residential portion alongside a large area that will let family members keep their flocks near their places of residence.” This means at least three dunams (0.7 acres), instead of a quarter dunam, per family.

The plan was preceded by the state’s decades-old policy of uprooting the Bedouin in the West Bank (most of them refugees expelled from the Negev after 1948) by reducing the space available to them, demolishing their shacks and blocking their access to water and markets. The Civil Administration even considers the tarps that protect them from the rain illegal construction and confiscates them.

To solve the problem of the Bedouin’s subhuman living conditions, which as everybody knows came out of the blue, along comes the compassionate Talet Nueima plan (which is comprised of four detailed master plans and two additional plans for roads).

In a letter to attorney Shlomo Lecker, Capt. Yaniv Ya’ari, a consulting officer in the military legal adviser’s office in the West Bank, wrote: “The plan … was prepared to create a suitable planning solution that took the population’s needs into account … in accordance with proper planning principles …. Contrary to your claim, several meetings and hearings have taken place in recent years in which your clients and you were given full opportunity to have your say to present alternative solutions for the area’s inhabitants – the members of the Bedouin population.

According to Ya’ari, “As far as we are concerned, the fact that these talks did not result in agreements is no indication of unwillingness to include the community in the planning process, but only of the regional authorities’ position that the rationale and planning of the proposed programs was preferable to those that you proposed.”

The objection by Bimkom reveals significant shortcomings in planning (on top of the original sin of forced relocation).

It’s possible these shortcomings are innocent mistakes – such as the assumption that the Bedouin’s basic organizational unit is the nuclear, not the extended family, or that the size of the average Bedouin nuclear family is 5.6 people, not the actual 7.1. It’s also possible that because of human error, there are crude discrepancies in the various parts of the plan, which also includes the demolition of already-existing homes of the Rashaida tribe.

Plans ‘lack of sensitivity’

But is the planning of a very wide road right through a village, to be used mainly for military purposes (access to the nearby army base or training ground) a mistake?

Bimkom says this road “embodies the plan’s lack of sensitivity and brings into sharp focus the plan’s functionalist aspect, which justifies the substandard planning that forces the Bedouin, with their families and flocks, to crowd into closed and narrow boxes stuck close together, and puts a military road, on which weapons of war will be traveling, in the middle.”

Are the tiny lots allocated for the construction of public buildings a “mistake” as well? According to Bimkom experts, the plan allocates 3.4 square meters of public buildings per person: roughly one-third of the 10 square meters accepted for ultra-Orthodox Jewish families – and ultra-Orthodox and Bedouin families are about the same size.

By comparison, the new plans for the two settlements in the area has set aside several times more space for public buildings: 80.7 square meters per person in Beit Ha’arava and 449 (!) square meters per person in Almog’s new neighborhood.

This “mistake” reflects the Civil Administration’s raison d’etre and activity in the West Bank: to expel as many Palestinians as possible from as much Palestinian land as possible. Then crowd them into as tiny an area as possible to give Jews as much space, comfort, convenience and quality of life as possible.


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West Bank Bedouin Fighting Israel’s Plan For Forcible Relocation(Ethnic Cleansing)

High Court petition aims to stop state relocating 12,500 Bedouin to new town.

By Amira Hass for Haaretz

Twenty-six Bedouin communities petitioned the High Court of Justice on Monday asking that a plan to build a new Bedouin town north of Jericho be frozen.

Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank, which is behind the plan, intends to forcibly relocate three Bedouin tribes there once the town, called Talet Nueima, is built.

Wednesday is the deadline for filing objections to the plan with the Civil Administration’s planning office. Dozens of objections have already been submitted, and dozens more are expected to arrive Wednesday, mainly from Bedouin communities and from Palestinian villages located near the proposed town.

The court petition, filed by Bedouin communities near Jerusalem that are slated to be relocated to Talet Nueima, argued that they were never consulted about the plan. The Bedouin say the plan gives no consideration to their traditional way of life or sources of livelihood. But unlike the objections filed with the planning office, the petition focused not on flaws in the plan itself, but on procedural flaws in the planning process.

The plan calls for relocating some 12,500 Bedouin from the Jahalin, Kaabneh and Rashaida tribes to Talet Nueima. This is the largest plan the Civil Administration has drafted for West Bank Palestinians since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993.

If the plan comes to fruition, the evacuation of the Bedouin tribes would free up additional lands for settlement construction, especially in the E1 corridor between Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. Two of the tribes currently live east of Jerusalem and the third in the Jordan Valley.

The plan would force the three tribes to live together, in violation of their customs. Moreover, concentrating them north of Jericho would affect all the nearby Palestinian villages economically, environmentally, demographically and culturally.

Both Bedouin and Palestinians fear Talet Nueima would become an island of poverty whose residents would have no opportunities for employment in the area. They also fear there would be social friction and competition over scarce water resources.

The Bedouin are the weakest members of Palestinian society, with no influence over internal Palestinian politics. But because of this plan’s impact on nearby Palestinian communities, the battle against it is getting more support than usual from other Palestinians. The Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center, a Palestinian NGO, submitted objections to the plan on behalf of several Palestinian towns, and attorneys for the Palestinian Authority have also filed objections.

Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights submitted objections on behalf of the Bedouin, as did lawyers Shlomo Lecker and Michal Luft.

Luft and Lecker are the ones who filed Monday’s High Court petition. The Bedouin decided to file the petition, rather than making do with fighting the plan via objections to the planning office, after discovering by chance that the Civil Administration recently developed a procedure for involving the Palestinian population in its planning processes. The head of the Civil Administration signed off on that procedure on November 9, one day before the Talet Nueima plan was opened for objections. In the attorneys’ view, that constitutes an indirect admission that no such consultative process occurred regarding Talet Nueima.

In their petition, Luft and Lecker wrote that in the past few years, they have repeatedly sought to arrange meetings with Israeli planning authorities so the latter could hear the Bedouins’ views, but to no avail. They charged that the Civil Administration purposely hid the plan from the Bedouin until it had to be published to allow objections.

The Civil Administration insists that the Bedouin’s views were heard, and that the plan takes their needs into account.

The court gave the state 30 days to respond to the petition, but didn’t issue an injunction to freeze the plan.


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Palestinian Bedouin Community Battles Eviction (Ethnic Cleansing)By Israeli Occupation

Abu Raed, a 66-year-old leader of a Palestinian Bedouin community near Jerusalem, described the Israeli plan as “the worst threat we have ever faced.”

By Turgut Alp Boyraz

JERUSALEM

After living under decades of Israeli occupation, Palestinian Bedouins now face an Israeli plan for their forced displacement to urban areas, which, they say, do not suit their nomadic lifestyle.

Abu Raed, a 66-year-old leader of a Palestinian Bedouin community near Jerusalem, described the Israeli plan as “the worst threat we have ever faced.”

The area where he and his family live was labeled by the Israeli government “E1” – one of Israel’s settlement expansion plans that was approved by the Israeli authorities in 1999 but was delayed due the international pressure.

If realized, the E1 plan, which aims to build new Jewish settlements on an area of 12,000 dunams, will link the settlements of Ma’ale Adumim, Mishor Adumim and Kfar Adumim in the occupied West Bank to East Jerusalem.

One dunam of land is roughly equivalent to 1,000 square meters.

To achieve this, Israeli authorities will relocate Raed’s family, along with many Bedouin communities, to the Jordan Valley near Jericho.

“We heard that the Israelis would bring thousands of outsiders into this land, which would mean forced displacement for us. All the Jewish settlements around will be combined and united with Jerusalem,” Abu Raed told The Anadolu Agency.

He said that moving into an urban township would bring their traditional lifestyle – which they have enjoyed for centuries – to an end.

“Our life depends on livestock. We cannot live in the city. That is against our lifestyle. We cannot feed and water our livestock in a city,” he lamented.

Palestinian Bedouin, he said, also fear losing the privilege of keeping at least 200 meters between their homes, in accordance with their traditions – a custom that would become untenable in the city.

“Bedouin women don’t associate with outsiders, but in a crowded town, they won’t be able to keep this tradition anymore,” he said.

“City life is totally against our lifestyle. We are shepherds. We only know how to feed animals. We will be like brutes in the city,” he added.

He asserted that they didn’t reject modernity. They just want to become a modern society – but in the mountains instead of the city.

Asking European countries to help them against the settlement plan, Abu Raed voiced fear that there would be no local Palestinian village left in the area if Israel forced them off the land.

“It is impossible to bring peace with this kind of eviction plan,” he argued.

Last month, Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the European Union sought to persuade Israel not to take a series of moves in the occupied West Bank deemed “red lines” by the union – including settlement building in the E1 area.

According to the paper, the European Union believes that crossing any of these “red lines” by Israel could undermine the possibility of a future Palestinian state alongside Israel – a risk that could draw further European sanctions against Israel.

The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-famous “Balfour Declaration,” called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

Jewish immigration rose considerably under the British administration of Palestine, which was consolidated by a League of Nations “mandate” in 1922. In 1948, with the end of the mandate, a new state – Israel – was declared inside historical Palestine.

As a result, some 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes, or were forcibly expelled, while hundreds of Palestinian villages and cities were razed to the ground by invading Jewish forces.

Israel went on to occupy East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.

Palestinians, for their part, continue to demand the establishment of an independent state in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with East Jerusalem – currently occupied by Israel – as its capital.

History of displacement

Mohamed al-Korshan, head of the Jerusalem Bedouin Cooperative Committee, an NGO, says the Bedouin living in Khan al-Ahmar had taken refuge in the area after becoming refugees when Israel was created in 1948.

According to al-Korshan, the Bedouin tribesmen who lost their land in the wake of the creation of Israel had settled in the Khan al-Ahmar area, refusing – for two main reasons – to move into refugee camps.

“Firstly, we thought we would get back our land very soon. And the second reason was to keep our traditional lifestyle,” he said.

“We currently live near Jerusalem; we don’t want to move away from the holy city due to its religious and commercial significance,” he added.

“Israel’s construction of the separation barrier has already isolated us from Jerusalem,” al-Korshan lamented.

According to the Ramallah-based Palestinian government, the separation barrier – which snakes through the West Bank, isolating large swathes of Palestinian territory – cuts some 50,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem off from the city center.

Sacred to both Muslims and Jews, Jerusalem is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which for Muslims represents the world’s third holiest site.

Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

International law regards the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territories and all Jewish settlement building in these areas as illegal.

Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered construction of a further 1,060 Jewish-only housing units in East Jerusalem in a move that drew Palestinian, Arab and international condemnation.

Palestinians already accuse Israel of waging an aggressive campaign to “Judaize” the historic city with the aim of effacing its Arab and Islamic identity and ultimately driving out its Palestinian inhabitants.

Legal fight

Al-Korshan said that Bedouin communities’ access to natural resources, such as fresh water and natural grasses for their livestock, were restricted after the 1967 war.

“Natural resources now go mainly to the settlers living around us,” he said. “The area where we live used to be considered ’empty land’ by Israel – as if we had never existed.”

In order to avoid forced eviction, the Jerusalem Bedouin Cooperative Committee is bracing to fight the plan in court.

“Israel is making plans about us without consulting with us. We are now in coordination with the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) and the Palestinian Authority,” he said.

According to Israeli law, any relocation plan must be published in two Hebrew-language newspapers and one English-language newspaper, so that it might be discussed for 60 days before being implemented.

However, al-Korshan said Israel had only shared the E1 plan with Jewish settlers, thus violating its own law.

“Our Israeli lawyers said that Israel’s plan for us is not transparent; that it was prepared behind closed doors,” he said.

Yet in a worst-case scenario, the committee is working on a plan aimed at allowing relocated communities to retain their traditional lifestyles – even if they have to move to a different area.

“We are working on an alternative plan, but we have not submitted it yet to Israeli authorities,” he said.

In August, Israeli authorities published six municipal plans, according to which 7,000 Bedouin would be relocated to townships.

One of these towns is Al-Nuway’imah, a Palestinian Bedouin community located just outside Jericho in the West Bank. It is surrounded by Jewish settlements and Israeli military bases.

Abu Faisla, a Bedouin leader in Al-Nuway’imah, fears that if other Bedouin communities in Khan al-Ahmar were to relocate here, there would be hostility between local residents and the newcomers.

“We live on little land. If the Bedouin communities in Khan al-Ahmar moved in, the land would be overcrowded,” he said.

“Each Bedouin community has its own traditions. Mixing us [together] as a big town might start a fight between us,” he warned.

He believes that, by this plan, Israel wants to play Bedouin communities off against one another.

“If Israel goes ahead with the E1 plan, we won’t be able to live as we have lived for centuries,” he said.

englishnews@aa.com.tr