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Hundreds protest Bedouin displacement in the Negev

Demonstrations against the Prawer-Begin Plan continue on a second ‘Day of Rage’ with hundreds demonstrating in the Negev, and standing off with police.

Demonstrators protest the Prawer-Begin Plan at Lehavim Junction, along the Tel Aviv-Beer Sheva highway, in the Negev, August 1, 2013. (Photo: Matt Surrusco)

Omar Naammeh stood alone about 50 feet back from the concentration of approximately 700 protestors, mostly youth, on a dusty elevation overlooking Lehavim Junction, along the Tel Aviv-Beer Sheva highway, south of Rahat in the Negev.

“The people here began to recognize they will lose their homeland,” said Naammeh, 60, of Beer Sheva, explaining what he believes has motived a growing number of Bedouin citizens of Israel to demonstrate against the Prawer-Begin Plan. The proposed policy would see tens of thousands of Bedouin living in Negev villages unrecognized by the State of Israel forcibly relocated into planned communities.

Click here for +972′s full coverage of the Prawer Plan

Demonstrators at the August 1 rally, one of a few that took place across Israel and the West Bank, and the second “Day of Rage” demonstration in the last few weeks, included Palestinians, Israelis and internationals, from young children to seniors.

Hundreds of activists protest against the Prawer-Begin Plan in the Negev Desert, August 1, 2013. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

According to a police spokesperson, 400 police officers, some in riot gear, were on hand, including 10 police on horseback, who stood off with demonstrators after some knocked over and pulled aside barricades, pushing forward toward the line of police that blocked protestors from nearing the highway.

One organizer Hind Salman, from Laqia, said activists made the decision not to push forward and attempt to block the road, as had been done at a demonstration two weeks ago in Sakhnin and on August 1 in the northern village of Arara, where at least 20 people were arrested.

Demonstrator Firas Badarna wears a Palestinian flag at an anti-Prawer Plan rally along the Tel Aviv-Beer Sheva highway, in the Negev, August 1, 2013. (Photo: Matt Surrusco)

During the bus ride from Jerusalem, Hassan Towafra, 26, a student at the Hebrew University, said he was at the July 15 demonstration in Beer Sheeva, but expected more people to attend demonstrations on August 1.

“The last two weeks more people have been talking about Prawer,” including Knesset members, Towafra said. “More people watched the last demo on T.V. and now they want to take part,” he added.

Wearing a Palestinian flag as a Superman cape, Firas Badarna, 27, a university student from Sakhnin, said some of the younger protestors attend just to take a photo and say they were there.

Bedouins and activists protest near the Tel Aviv-Beer Sheva highway, near the town of Lehavim, against the Israeli government’s Prawer Plan. (photo: Activestills)

Wesal Yaseen, 21, a university student from Kafr Manda, said many of the young people at the demonstration likely did not understand the implications of the Prawer Plan.

“If you go and ask them, ‘What is the Prawer Plan?’ They don’t know,” she said.

But, she added, Bedouin young people are beginning to understand how the plan could affect them.

Naammeh, the man from Beer Sheva, said the younger generation of Bedouin traditionally has not participated in protests. However, the prospects of displacement have made them more politically involved.

He said his community has held regular protests on Fridays. The Day of Rage rally was larger, with a more diverse crowd.

“This [demonstrations] will continue until the Prawer Plan will disappear,” Naammeh said.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Kolumn9

      Because everyone knows that the way to appeal to the good graces of the Israeli public is by waving Palestinian flags.

      Reply to Comment
    2. David T.

      Is there any way to appeal to the Israeli public when it comes to the “displacement” of Nonjews?

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        There are certainly better ways than to march around with flags of those most of that public consider enemies.

        Reply to Comment
    3. David T.

      Really? Are we talking about the same “Israeli public” that doesn’t give a s**t about the fact that the Bedouins villages are “not recognized” (what ever that means in the Zionspeak dictionary of racial opression and dispossesion) and destroyed multiple times? I wonder why they have become enemies.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        We are talking about the same Israeli public that thinks all Arabs want to kill them and all actions against the Arabs are thus legitimate. Marching with the same flags that have a prominent place in suicide bomber videos is really not a great PR strategy and only perpetuates the stereotype. If these Bedouin choose to position themselves as enemies of Israel they really shouldn’t be surprised to find a public that is going to be hardly sympathetic. Were they to find a couple of dozen Bedouin that served, and have them march in IDF uniforms with Israeli flags they might get a very different reception.

        Reply to Comment
    4. David T.

      So if they would march in a uniform of an army which is the state successor of Jewish paramilitary and terrorist organisation waving the flag of those who dispossesed and expelled many of them and destroyed their villages the “Israeli public” have a different reception leading exactly to what?

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        If they would march as a group that the Israeli public can relate to instead of marching with flags that most Israelis associate with hostility and violence then perhaps they would be treated as fellow citizens protesting legitimate grievances instead of hostile elements that need to be controlled. I would guess that in that case there would be significant internal pressure on the Israeli government to sit down and discuss the grievances instead of the automatic backing by the majority of the Israeli public of any steps that need to be taken against the quickly growing hostile population taking over massive amount of state land. Right now all the pressure on the government is to prevent the illegal Bedouin pzura from spreading to take over more of the Negev. These demonstrations make for nice photos on 972mag and might be useful for the Arab MKs to mobilize their supporters but in terms of actual effectiveness they are a net loss if their goal is to get the government to reconsider.

        Reply to Comment
    5. David T.

      ” would guess that in that case there would be significant internal pressure on the Israeli government to sit down and discuss the grievances instead of the automatic backing by the majority of the Israeli public of any steps that need to be taken against the quickly growing hostile population taking over massive amount of state land. Right now all the pressure on the government is to prevent the illegal Bedouin pzura from spreading to take over more of the Negev.”

      LOL. Israel converted the Negev into “state land” in 1952 and disregared Bedouin land claims, water access and also their traditional grazing rights. Claims and rights which the mandataroy respected and upheld, but not your beloved Apartheid regime. And would you consider the “pzuras” illegal if it was Jews “spreading to take over more of the Negev”? How did they get more than 6% they owned?

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Don’t expect Israelis to be sympathetic to your line of argument while you are carrying a flag that appears in every video of a Palestinian suicide bomber before he blows himself up along with Israeli women and children. It just isn’t effective. Even if you had a legitimate argument it would be ignored. Which you don’t.

        The Bedouin claim the right to take over state land on the basis of the Israeli government letting them use the land in the 1950s. There is no legal basis for their claims. The ‘traditional grazing rights’ that the Bedouin claim is like claiming my ownership of a road that I drive from my house to work. That someone might entertain colorful notions in return for payment and a lack of interest (as was the case for Bedouin under the Ottomans and the British) is wonderful but it doesn’t grant ownership.

        And yes, I would consider the “pzuras” illegal if it was Jews taking over state land and I would expect the government to take action to prevent it. The Jews ‘got more than the 6% they owned’ because the vast majority of the Negev was state land under the British and the rest was taken over after the civil war between the Palestinian Jews and the Palestinian Arabs which the Arabs started and Jews finished at great cost and which resulted in the departure (or expulsion in some cases) of much of the Arab population.

        Reply to Comment
    6. David T.

      “Don’t expect Israelis to be sympathetic to your line of argument while you are carrying a flag that appears in every video of a Palestinian suicide bomber before he blows himself up along with Israeli women and children.”

      They should wave the Israeli flag. Because blowing up innocent women and children is only the tip of the iceberg of Zionist crimes.

      “The Bedouin claim the right to take over state land on the basis of the Israeli government letting them use the land in the 1950s.”

      “take over state land”. You are quite funny. How did the GOI “take over” this land?

      “The ‘traditional grazing rights’ that the Bedouin claim is like claiming my ownership of a road that I drive from my house to work.”

      Yeah, like the Jewish claim to any non private land in historic Palestine or even a claim for territory for a whole state, right?

      “and a lack of interest … but it doesn’t grant ownership.”

      “Lack of interest”, says who? The European concept of ownership is different from the Ottoman. The Bedouins only wanted to cultivate land and were allowed to do so under Ottoman law. Their interest in “ownership” arose, because Israel wanted to relocate them to make room for Jews.

      “And yes, I would consider the “pzuras” illegal if it was Jews taking over state land …”

      Of course you don’t consider it illegal that Jews took over the “state land” through war. And why should Jews take over Israeli state land? It’s only purpose is to be developed for Jews. 600 settlements were created for Jews since 1948, 50 of them in the Negev. None for Nonjews. In their case more than 400 villages were destroyed in 1948 and Bedouin villages are even destroyed today. But I’m sure that the “Israeli public” would sympathise with them if only they wouldn’t wave the Palestinian flag. A flag under which they would be allowed to stay were they are, even if they are not Jews.

      “The Jews ‘got more than the 6% they owned’ because the vast majority of the Negev was state land …”. No they got more than 6% because they took rhe rest through war. It’s very simple.

      “which the Arabs started”

      LOL. After the Whitebook of 1939 whiche ended the Zionist’s wet dream of a state – at least without establishing it through violence – Jewish terrorist organisation started their war against Arabs and the mandatory. It was clear to them, that only a war could bring them their state. And of course that they have to expell Nonjews to become a significant majority.

      “(or expulsion in some cases)”

      In “some cases”? In 73% of all cases allready at the end of June 1948 according to the Haganah’s Shai report. After that it was nearly 100%. And if you prevent anyone from returning it’s an expulsion anyway. So 100% of the refugees were expelled. And another 100% of the 300.000 in 1967. And after 1967 another quarter of the million which residency rights were revoked while studying or working abroad.

      If only they would wave the correct flag … the Israeli public outcry would follow immediately because they actually do have a heart for Israeli Nonjews and respect their rights since more than 6 decades, don’t they?

      Reply to Comment

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