Monday, April 17, 2006

Israeli forces destroy crops of Negev Bedouin


This is continuation of racist policy aimed at dispossessing the Negev Bedouins, possibly also the first 'down payment' in Olmert's coalition talks with arch-racist Avigdor Lieberman.

- Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc

Gush Shalom: Today, Sunday April 16, the Israeli authorities destroyed 400 dunams of Bedouin crops - no this is not the West Bank, but Israel proper. By chance we heard about it, and we want to let you know - without having an idea what you could do about it, other than helping to spread the message.

Press release 14/4/2006

Police and Israel Land Authority destroy crops on 100 acres of Bedouin "unrecognized" fields. Inhabitants: due to low rainfall, we had meagre harvests anyway - now all we had is lost.

At 6.30 am this morning, personnel of the Israel Lands Authority, equipped with tractors and accompanied by a huge force of police and Border Guards, launched a large-scale raid on the "unrecognized" Bedouin villages in the Negev. The semi-military operation started at the village of Bir el Hamam, east of Tel Sheba, where the Authority people ploughed and destroyed the crops in the fields belonging to Ali Abu Issa and his family.

Then they moved to the fields of Al Horam Family in the same village, and thence to those of Al Horti Family in neighboring Hirbat al Watan and of the Abu Kef Family at al-Garin. Altogether, some four hundred dunams (roughly 100 acres) of wheat and barley were completely destroyed, source of livelihood for dozens of people."There was low rainfall this year, and we expected only meagre harvests - now everything which did grow is completely destroyed" said the villagers. "When there is low rainfall, the government gives compensations to Jewish farmers. What they send to us is destruction of the little we have".

The Israel Lands Authority defines these villages as "unrecognized" and "illegal" and does not recognize the Bedouins' ownership of the fields - though these families and tribes have been cultivating them for generations, long before the state of Israel came into being. Land ownership laws in Israel have been amended in a way which makes it next to impossible for Bedouins to prove in a court of law ownership of their ancestral lands.

"Government policy in recent years regards the Negev Bedouins as 'an obstacle to the development of the Negev' and implements a systematic campaign of home demolitions and crop destruction, with the intention of causing the Bedouins to lose hope and abandon their land" says Sliman abu Obeid, Field Coordinator for the Regional Council of the Unrecognized Villages.

"The treatment of the Negev Bedouins, citizens of Israel, is a badge of infamy for our country" says Adam Keller, spokesperson of Gush Shalom (Israeli Peace Bloc). "The intensified aggression against the Bedouins might also be the first 'down payment' in Acting PM's Olmert courting of the arch-racist Avigdor Lieberman, slated to be a government coalition partner. Lieberman's entire elections campaign in the recent parliamentary elections consisted of racist demagoguery against Israel's Arab citizens. Specifically, Lieberman and his partner Pini Badash, Mayor of the Be'er Sheba suburb of Omer, spent much time and energy on inciting Jewish inhabitants of the Negev against their Bedouin neighbors.

H'sein al Rafia'a, Chair of the Regional Council of the Unrecognized Villages +972-507-716645

Contact Gush Shalom at:

Meanwhile, the El-Okbi tribe makes a desparate effort to keep at least some of their land - to start an agricultural community, and not be pushed into 'Bedouin Townships' where they would be turned into a cheap labour pool.Association for the Defence of Bedouin Rights in Israel

Press release 14/4/2006
"Down with Poverty, down with discrimination!"

Members of the el-Okbi Tribe erect a protest tent against the authorities' harassmentdemanding the right to create an agricultural community on their ancestral landIn these days of the holiday commemorating the Jewish people's emergence from Slavery to Liberty we, members of the el-Okbi Tribe and citizens of the state of Israel from its very inception, decided to embark on an accelerated struggle against the authorities' harassment. It is intolerable to continue enduring gross discrimination in the land which is our land from time immemorial.

Therefore, we have decided to erect a protest tent where we can receive guests who are willing to listen to the story of the el-Okbi tribespeople, citizens of this nation, and we expect to receive our guests at the protest tent in Al-Arakib and at the tribe's present residence in Hora. We will tell and show our guests our sorry and intolerable situation, in the hope of getting the support of human rights adherents in our struggle for a better future - specifically, the creation of our own village on our own land.In front of our eyes, enormous government resources are spent for the creation of "Giv'ot Bar", a community earmarked for the settlement of Jews on el-Okbi tribal land which was our fathers' and their fathers' fathers.

Looking in the other direction we can see how in another part of our ancestral land there are brought in bedouins of another tribe, Tarabin a-Sana, whom the authorities want to remove from where they now live, in order to expand the affluent Be'er Sheba suburb of Omer. We have nothing against either these nor these. The whole of our legitimate and elementary demand is to be allowed to create an agricultural community on the part of our ancestral land which is still free - an agricultural community of our own, rather then being "concentrated" into the government's "bedouin townships", a "solution" which we completely reject.

In the place where we want to settle down, and which we know as we know the palm of our hand., there already exists the necessary infrastructure - a road, electricity and water lines. All that is needed is for the authorities, who are responsible to our present difficult situation, to take the appropriate decision. That is what we struggle for in our protest tent.The public - and also the representatives of the government authorities - are hereby cordially invited.

Have a Happy Passover!



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