Israel has been demolishing the residential structures and livestock shelters of Arab Bedouins. The state has continuously been discriminating against the Bedouins and treating them as second-class citizens.
The Prawer-Begin Bill was passed in January, calling for the transfer of more than 30,000 Bedouins as well as the demolition of about 40 villages which the Israeli state has labelled illegal. Many Bedouins refused to move because the government wants them to renounce the land which is rightfully theirs—land that has been passed down from generation to generation.
The village of Al-Araqib has been destroyed 54 times in the last three years. The demolitions have occurred in at least six other areas, including Jerusalem. The latest incident occurred on September 16, where 58 buildings were knocked to the ground; all were residential structures and shelters for livestock in the Northern Jordan Valley.
”Israel has begun to evict Bedouin Palestinians out of their homes and begun to encourage and even help Jewish Israelis to move in,” said Joe Stork, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Prime Minister Netanyahu should end the appalling discrimination against Israel’s Bedouin citizens, not support legislation that enshrines it.”
Israel destroyed Bedouin homes in the Negev, claiming they were built without legal permits. However, Israel has refused to legally recognize the land for decades. Much of the Bedouin land was bought through verbal agreements before the state of Israel had been established. The land had been passed down from their ancestors.
The United Nations considers the destruction of the Bedouin property a violation of international humanitarian law. The UN human rights office urged Israeli authorities to halt the recent wave of demolitions of Bedouin structures. Many of the Bedouins and the protestors refer to the current violations as “Nakba” (catastrophe), the same term used to refer to the establishment of the Israeli state, which is based upon driving out the indigenous population.
There have been solidarity protests in Gaza and the West Bank demanding an end to the evictions of the Bedouins and the destruction of their homes. Being in solidarity with the Bedouins and Palestinians means exposing the human rights violations exercised by the state and the West’s continuing support of Israel.