Posted by: Lister | January 15, 2008

The Negev

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions has a summary of the situation in the Negev:

The Negev is the final frontier inside Israel, the last tract of largely undeveloped land in the state. Israel has virtually completed the dismemberment of Palestinian lands in the center and north of the country, and now is consolidating the ‘Jewish redemption’ of the southern desert.

These Bedouin lands are coveted by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) which has published plans to move large numbers of Jews to the Negev. To make way for new JNF communities, the ‘unrecognized’ villages of A-Tir, Um Al-Hiran, and Twail Abu Jarwal were destroyed during 2007 in military-style operations involving large forces of police and soldiers, displacing hundreds of families. The Interior ministry has also sent airborne crop dusters to poison the Bedouin fields with broad-spectrum herbicides. The feared Green Patrol, a paramilitary unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, conducts these operations.

There are over 150,000 Bedouin in the Negev desert, with well-established territorial rights dating back to the Ottoman Era. However immediately after the founding of the state in 1948, the government began to confiscate land and move the Bedouin to ever decreasing areas, while allocating state resources for the development of new Jewish-only towns and agricultural settlements. Although the Bedouin were eventually granted citizenship of Israel, they were under military rule until 1966. Through legislation and various legal mechanisms the state has decreed the Bedouin to be squatters on their own land and thus the courts support the demolition of homes and expulsion of the inhabitants. The JNF, through its ‘Blueprint Negev’ plan, intends to create 25 new towns in the Negev over the coming years, bringing 250,000 new Jewish residents to the region according to its web site. The JNF is also planting forests on Bedouin land, such as the Ambassador Forest on the lands of the Elokbi Tribe north of Be’er Sheva.

[…] Bedouin in ‘unrecognized’ villages receive no government services, are subject to a separate body of law and regulation, have their land confiscated for Jewish settlement, and are generally relegated to the margins of existence.

The Bedouin have a long and proud tradition as a people. During the first decades of the state, they gave allegiance to Israel, sent their sons to the army and expected the respect they deserve. They received none. Instead the state has continued its mission to serve only the interests of Jewish citizens, and as a result few Bedouin serve in the IDF today. The cost might be high. Bedouin leaders have warned that the anger simmering under the surface may erupt, and Israel may face a Bedouin uprising, an Intifada within the state that could destroy what little is left of Jewish democracy. Perhaps it’s time for the State of Israel to become a democracy for the benefit of all its citizens, before it’s too late.

ICAHD is a site worth reading on a regular basis.

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  1. […] January 15, 2008 The Negev « Pardon My Paradox […]


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