Days of Anger Against Ethnic Cleansing of Bedouin
DEMONSTRATIONS in Jerusalem (above) and Kafr Kassem (below)
PALESTINIANS uniting behind Bedouin resisting ethnic cleansing from their homes in the Naqb (Negev) have called a second 'Day of Anger' on August 1 and appealed for international support.
Thousands of Palestinians took part in widespread demonstrations in support of the Bedouin on Monday, July 15, and in some places they were joined by Israeli Jewish sympathisers. There were demonstrations from Beersheba, at the heart of the Negev. in the south, to Tamra in Galilee to the north. Besides the cities of Jaffa and Jerusalem, smaller places which saw demonstrations included the village of Kafr Kassem, scene of a massacre of Arab farmworkers by Israeli forces on October 29, 1956.
Support demonstrations also took place in the Gaza strip and the Occupied Palestinian West bank, and in Cairo and Beirut.
Israeli forces moved to break up the demonstration in Beersheba, and on Tuesday they demolished the Bedouin village of Araqib - for the 53rd time! The Bedouin there insist their title to the land goes back at least to Ottoman times, and soon after the Israeli forces had finished their destructive work the villagers were erecting homes again.
The Israeli government's Prawer plan, first devised in 2011, passed its first reading in the Knesset this week. Under it the authorities plan to:
confiscate 800,000 dunums of land in the Naqab desert
expel between 30,000 and 50,000 Palestinian Bedouin.
demolish 35 unrecognized villages
confine 30% of Palestinian Bedouins in the Naqab to 1% of the land
Dozens of people were injured or arrested when Israeli security forces moved to break up demonstrations and clear streets on Monday, and there are also reports that Hamas police in Gaza halted a demonstration there, which had involved the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Hamas in Gaza is probably nervous. Having dissociated itself from Hizbollah over the Syrian war, it nevertheless faces a renewed siege not only by Israel but by the military regime in Egypt, which chose Ramadan to seal the border crossing and prevent Palestinians returning home. The new regime seems to be blaming Palestinians for everything from attacks on border posts to fuel shortages.
The Israeli government may have felt the coup in Egypt coupled with the continuing civil war in Syria would offer a good time to get on with its ethnic cleansing against the Bedouin, even though the Bedouin are Israeli citizens -some even serving in the Army - hardly an advertisement for Israeli "democracy".
But the Day of Anger last week showed not only the Bedouin resilience but a new spirit of unity among Palestinians.