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Left-wingers are busing Arabs to the polls in droves — for real this time

Playing on Netanyahu’s warning about Arab citizens of Israel voting in the last elections, a grassroots campaign raises tens of thousands of shekels to bring Bedouin from unrecognized villages to the polls — not quite in droves, but mini-bus by mini-bus.

On Election Day in 2015, Benjamin Netanyahu sent a video to his supporters warning that “Arabs are heading to the polls in droves, and left-wing organizations are bringing them in buses.” This Tuesday, his then-baseless exhortation will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

More than 1,400 Israelis have donated tens of thousands of shekels to a crowdfunded initiative to bus to the polls Bedouin citizens of Israel who live in unrecognized villages in the Negev desert (Naqab, in Arabic).

Get-out-the-vote efforts are par for the course for nearly every party in nearly every democratic country these days. In the United States, both major parties field volunteers to drive voters to the polls. Even Netanyahu’s warning about droves of Arab voters was a scare tactic meant to push his voters off the couch and to the ballot box. Turnout is almost always a deciding factor in elections, and motivation to vote is a driving force in turnout.

The campaign to bus Bedouin voters, however, was designed to solve a different problem. So-called unrecognized Bedouin villages, where tens of thousands of Israeli citizens live, do not have the most basic infrastructure most developed nations afford their citizens. They do not have running water, electricity, sewage, paved roads, public transportation — and no polling places.

Anyone living in an unrecognized Bedouin village who wants to vote must travel significant distances in order to do so in most cases. And without a car, it’s extremely difficult if not impossible to pull off.

The initiative, which is being fully funded by a crowdfunding campaign run by “Zazim,” an Israeli grassroots organizing group akin to MoveOn, and the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages of Negev, is expected to bring between 6,000 and 10,000 Bedouin voters to the polls on Tuesday.


According to Zazim’s website, as of Sunday morning the campaign had raised enough money to hire at least 40 mini-buses and all-terrain vans that can ferry as many as 15 voters at a time between their villages and polling places.

“A high percentage of people in unrecognized villages don’t show up to...

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Germany puts BDS activists on trial for disrupting Israeli MK

Two Israelis and a Palestinian activist are standing trial for interrupting a talk by Israeli member of Knesset Aliza Lavie at a Berlin university in 2017. 

Three BDS activists, two Israelis and a Palestinian, are on trial in Germany after being charged with assault and trespassing during a lecture by an Israeli member of Knesset in June 2017. The activists, Stavit Sinai and Ronnie Barkan from Israel, and Majd Abusalama from Gaza, interrupted MK Aliza Lavie of the centrist Yesh Atid party as she spoke at Humboldt University in Berlin. The activists accused Lavie of having “the blood of Gaza” on her hands, and accused her of representing an “apartheid regime.”

Sinai, Barkan, and Abusalama succeeded in halting the lecture for several minutes, until both members of the audience and university security guards forcefully removed them from the room. Lavie’s lecture was titled “Life in Israel: Terror, Prejudice, and the Chance of Peace,” and delivered alongside Holocaust survivor Deborah Weinstein. The event was organized by the German-Israel Society branch in Berlin as part of a delegation of Yesh Atid’s youth chapter to promote Israeli hasbara on campuses across Germany. At the time of the presentation, Lavie was the chairperson of the Lobby for the Struggle Against the Delegitimization of the State of Israel.

Shortly after the talk began, the activists stood up and shouted, “While you take pride in LGBTQ rights in Tel Aviv, Israel is forcing Palestinians out of the closet,” and demanded Lavie speak about the “crimes you committed in Gaza.” Following the event, which was covered by both the Israeli and German press, the German-Israel Society filed a criminal complaint with the German authorities, who launched an investigation and charged the activists with assault and trespassing. Their trial opened on March 4 in Berlin, where over 100 supporters from various left-wing organizations, including Jewish ones, were in attendance.


Charges of anti-Semitism were quick to follow. After the talk, Lavie published a statement in which she claimed her lecture quickly “turned into a violent and anti-Semitic demonstration of hatred by BDS activists, including Israelis who did not let me speak.” German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel published an article on the incident under the headline “Anti-Semitism in Berlin,” while Israeli pro-settler news site Arutz 7 emphasized that this was the same university where Jewish books were burned in 1933. Even German intelligence mentioned the incident in a report published last year, in which it established that the BDS movement is part...

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Israel trying to deport stateless Palestinian journalist from Jerusalem

Mustafa al-Haruf has spent the last 20 years living in East Jerusalem, where he has a wife, daughter, and works as a photographer. Now Israel wants to deport him to Jordan, where he has no family or legal status.

Mustafa al-Haruf, a stateless Palestinian journalist who lives and works in Jerusalem, has been in an Israeli detention facility for the past month, fighting a deportation order to Jordan, a country he has no ties to. Al-Haruf, born in Algeria to a Palestinian father, has lived in East Jerusalem since he was 12, and is married to a Jerusalemite Palestinian woman, with whom he has a small child.

His story is a complicated one. It also encapsulates the problematic situation for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, who are residents of the city, but not citizens of the State of Israel. Their residency can be taken away from them at any given moment — even if they were born or raised in Jerusalem.

Al-Haruf, 32, is the son of an Algerian mother and a Palestinian father from East Jerusalem. His family moved to East Jerusalem shortly after his twelfth birthday. Like many other Palestinians, it took years for his father to formalize his status, since he had been living abroad for so long. After finally receiving status, al-Haruf’s father attempted to formalize that of his children. Mustafa’s request was rejected since he was 18 and four months, and therefore too old according the Israeli authorities.

According to al-Haruf’s attorney, Adi Lustigman, who is representing him on behalf of Israeli human rights organization Hamoked, the family went to the Interior Ministry office on Jerusalem’s Nablus Road, which is known for its endless lines. “There were no procedures for a parent who wanted to register his or her children. Therefore, by no fault of their own, it took the family a long time to request residency for the children,” says Lustigman.

“In all my 18 years of work, I have not seen a single case in which Israel arrested someone who came to Jerusalem as a child for being undocumented. Mustafa has no other place where he can legally be,” says Lustigman.


After being rejected by the Nablus Road office, Al-Haruf turned to the Interior Ministry’s humanitarian committee, which also refused to accept his request. Eventually, he was granted a B1 visa, most often given to foreign workers...

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German bank to determine whether Jewish peace group is anti-Semitic

Bank für Sozialwirtschaft says it will conduct a ‘scientific review’ of Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East after the group was accused anti-Semitism by a leading Jewish organization over its support for the BDS movement.

A German bank is trying to determine whether a German-Jewish group that supports Palestinian rights is anti-Semitic.

In December of last year, Bank für Sozialwirtschaft (Bank for Social Economy) said it would conduct a “scientific review” of German-Jewish group Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East after the latter was accused of anti-Semitism by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, one of the most well-known Jewish human rights organizations, placed the group at number seven in its annual “Top 10 Most anti-Semitic Incidents List” over its support for the BDS movement.

The list, published late last year, includes the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and the appearance of swastikas across university campuses in the U.S. It also lists Bank für Sozialwirtschaft for providing services to Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East, which operates in Germany. The bank decided to appoint an expert on anti-Semitism to determine whether the Jewish organization is in fact anti-Semitic.

The pressure on both Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East and Bank für Sozialwirtschaft, began in 2016, after the Jerusalem Post published an article on several Jewish German groups that had demanded the bank shut down the organization’s account over the latter’s support for BDS. The bank gave in and the account was shut down — the first time a German bank had shut down a Jewish organization’s account since the fall of the Nazi regime — only to be re-opened in 2017.


The pressure from pro-Israel groups, however, did not cease.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list includes not only anti-Semitic incidents, but also organizations, figures, and political decisions — including Airbnb’s decision to pull listings in West Bank settlements, UNRWA’s activities in the Gaza Strip, and UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. According to the list, Bank für Sozialwirtschaft earned the number seven spot because it “insists on doing business with the radical ‘Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East,’ which strongly endorses boycotting the Jewish state.”

Jewish Voice for a Just Peace...

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14 Israeli citizens killed by police in five years, not a single indictment

Over the past five years, police have shot dead 14 Israeli citizens. The department tasked with investigating the killings has closed all but two of the cases. Almost all the suspects were people of color.

The police killing of 24-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli Yehuda Biadga last month sparked outrage among the Ethiopian community in Israel. Many believe that were it not for the color of his skin, he would still be alive today. Biadga, who suffered from PTSD as a result of his army service, was shot while wandering around his neighborhood in the city of Bat Yam while holding a knife. Instead of using a taser or firing warning shots, the officer shot Biadga in the head.

Local Call, +972 Magazine’s Hebrew-language sister site, examined all deadly police shootings in the past five years (the full list is below). An analysis of data, provided by the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department (PIID) shows that almost all suspects killed by police in that time period were people of color. Since 2014, police killed 14 people inside the Green Line in incidents not categorized as nationalistically-motivated or terrorism related. Nine were Palestinian citizens of Israel, three had Mizrahi last names, one of Russian origin, and one Ethiopian.

According to the Police Internal Investigations Department, it has not filed a single indictment against officers involved in any of those deadly shootings. In two of the cases, the PIID did not even open an investigation, while in 10 incidents the department closed the cases without an indictment. Only two of the cases are still open — one of them is Biadga’s.

More broadly, the chances of a complaint against a police officer resulting in an indictment are very low. A report by the State Comptroller from 2017 found that of the approximately 6,300 complaints of violence that reached PIID in 2015, only around 200 (3.2 percent) officers were prosecuted.


The PIID said that in all of the cases where officers killed suspects, it determined the officers acted legally in self-defense. While every police killing automatically leads to a PIID investigation, injury cases are usually opened after the victim submits a formal complaint.

“The police’s culture of violence and lies in the occupied territories trickles into Israel and affects Arabs first and foremost, but it also affects Ethiopians, Russians, and Mizrahim,” says...

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Palestinian company says ex-IDF chief stole footage of Gaza destruction for campaign video

Gaza-based ‘Media Town’ claims Benny Gantz, who many see as Netanyahu’s only credible opponent in the upcoming elections, cribbed aerial footage of destroyed neighborhoods in Gaza following Operation Protective Edge.

A Palestinian media company is claiming that former Israeli army chief and aspiring politician Benny Gantz stole their footage for a campaign video boasting of the death and destruction he wrought on Gaza in the 2014 war.

Israeli social media lit up last week after Gantz, who many view as the top contender to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the upcoming elections, published a number of highly controversial campaign videos on his Facebook page.

Between 2,125 and 2,310 Gazans were killed and over 10,600 were wounded — including 3,300 children — during Operation Protective Edge. According to UN estimates, more than 7,000 homes were destroyed, while another 89,000 homes sustained damage. Rebuilding costs were calculated to run from $4-6 billion over the span of 20 years.

“Media Town,” a Gaza-based Palestinian media company, is claiming Gantz used its footage for his election campaign without permission. The company published a post on Facebook accusing Gantz of stealing their footage and publishing it on his social media accounts. Media Town further claimed they were the only company to have flown a drone over Gaza during the war.

“It is difficult to see a video in which Gantz takes pride in destruction and killing,” said Ashraf Mashrawi in a phone call. “It has nothing to do with where I am from, it has to do with basic humanity. A moral person must want to build and create life, not the opposite.”

Mashrawi, who lives in Gaza, films videos in conflict zones the world, including in Turkey, Libya, Yemen, and Syria. “Our footage has been stolen before, but this is the first time that a political campaign has taken our footage without permission,” he says. “It’s not nice when your work is stolen, it’s copyright infringement. Anyone who respects other people’s labor must first ask us for permission.”

Media Town sent the original footage, which was first published by the BBC in 2014, to Local Call for verification.

Mashrawi says that Media Town works with many international outlets, but always under limited licensing, which forbids outlets from selling the footage to third parties. “Try to ask the BBC to buy the same video, they will immediately send...

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Activists shut down traffic on new West Bank 'apartheid road'

Activists say the highway, which separates Israeli and Palestinian traffic with an 26-foot concrete wall, will ‘strengthen Israeli rule, including by shutting out entire Palestinian areas.’

Dozens of Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists Wednesday morning blocked a highway many have dubbed the “apartheid road,” Route 4370 in the occupied West Bank, which separates Israeli and Palestinian traffic with an 26-foot concrete wall.

The activists managed to shut down the highway for 20 minutes before Israeli Border Police officers suppressed the demonstration with stun grenades and arrested two.

One side of the road, which stretches between Route 437 and Route 1 just east of Jerusalem in the West Bank, is designated for Israeli citizens and the other, separated by the concrete wall, for Palestinians. The Israeli side allows easy access to central Jerusalem, while the other side is designed to funnel Palestinians through an underpass, so as to not disturb Israeli traffic into the city.

“We came here to protest against yet another apartheid road,” said Sahar Vardi, one of the organizers of the protest. “There are a number of such roads that separate Israelis and Palestinians, but on this road you see a wall in the middle, symbolizing the polices of the occupation.”

The official reasoning for opening the road was to alleviate traffic for Israeli settlers commuting to Jerusalem, as well as creating a new way for Palestinians to travel between the northern and southern West Bank. According to Vardi, the true goal of the highway is to help the settlers and “strengthen Israeli rule, including by shutting out entire Palestinian areas.”

Palestinians and human rights activists say the highway is part of plan to create territorial contiguity between Jerusalem and its surrounding settlements, particularly the highly-contested E1 area, the 12 sq. kilometer area located between Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. For decades, Israel has hoped to build up the area with settlements, connecting the settlement to Jerusalem and effectively bifurcating the West Bank.

“Every effort to improve the lives of Palestinians is done first and foremost for the sake of control and the settlers. This is what we are witnessing,” Vardi said.


“This is a clear example of apartheid,” said Israeli activist Karen Isaacs. “Aside from the physical separation between Palestinians and Israelis, the goal is to annex this entire area to Jerusalem....

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Israeli activist who slapped Ahed Tamimi's prosecutor wants a political trial

Yifat Doron says she slapped the IDF prosecutor to defend her friend. ‘We are not punished the same way the Palestinians are for the same actions.’

A few minutes before an Israeli military court sentenced teenager Ahed Tamimi to eight months in prison, an Israeli activist, Yifat Doron, approached the military prosecutor, shouted “who are you to judge her?” and slapped the lieutenant colonel across the head.

Doron was released on her own recognizance just two days after being arrested for slapping the prosecutor in March of last year. Tamimi had been denied bail for four months while awaiting trial, also for slapping an Israeli soldier a few months earlier.

Ahed is Palestinian. Yifat is Israeli. Ahed was put into Israel’s military court system. Yifat —despite slapping a military officer in the occupied West Bank, just like Ahed — was charged in a civilian court inside Israel.

When Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, it applied military law to the territory. Technically, military law and the military court system have jurisdiction over Palestinians and Israelis alike in the occupied territory. In practice, a Palestinian and an Israeli who commit the exact same crime in the exact same territory are subject to different laws, different legal procedures, are tried in different courts, and are given different rights and protections.

Unlike Ahed’s slap, which was the subject of headlines around the world, and seemingly embarrassed the Israeli military establishment and national pride, there was no video documentation of Doron’s act.

Her trial, for assaulting a public servant under aggravated circumstances, began at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court last Tuesday. The prosecution is asking for prison time.

Outside the courtroom in Jerusalem last week, Doron said that she wasn’t trying to make a political statement when she slapped the Israeli officer last year: “The way I see it, this was in reaction to seeing my friend in distress.” Nevertheless, she added, what followed was an example of apartheid.

“We are not punished the same way the Palestinians are punished for the same actions,” she explained.

Doron is representing herself in the trial.

“Because the arrest happened in a political context, I have no interest in entering into all kinds of legal arguments,” she said of her decision to decline counsel. “I’m going to represent myself politically — I understand politics.”

The legal system is one of the primary tools Israel uses to oppress Palestinians, Doron added,...

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Safe from deportations, asylum seekers in Israel still living in fear

The last year has been a tumultuous one for the 35,000 asylum seekers in Israel, most of whom have come from Sudan or Eritrea over the past decade. The Israeli government started the year with a plan to pay most of the asylum seekers to leave for Rwanda and Uganda, and with a half-cocked plan to forcibly deport the rest of them to those countries. Asylum seekers who refused deportation faced indefinite imprisonment. Meanwhile, the government refused to even examine the vast majority of their asylum requests.

“We live in a limbo” says Darfuri asylum seeker Jack Tigi-Tigi, 34, who arrived in Israel in 2008. “[For] more than 10 years people are waiting for an answer, but the state doesn’t want to check our cases to grant us [asylum] status.”

Tigi-Tigi says he has friends who managed to make it to Europe or the United States who received refugee status there after only a few months. “Israel wants to fight people emotionally and spiritually in order to break us down,” he laments. “When people are broken, they will leave on their own. They want to deport us indirectly.” Tigi-Tigi was for a time jailed in Holot, the desert detention facility Israel built four years ago to temporarily house asylum seekers. Many of his friends made the decision to leave after facing imprisonment.

Tigi-Tigi’s story is not exceptional among asylum seekers in Israel. Over the last 11 years, since the first group of Darfuri asylum seekers arrived through the Sinai peninsula from Egypt, Israeli authorities have refused to process the vast majority of their refugee status requests, leaving people in limbo, without status, and at risk of depression, poverty, and with no prospect of a future.

As the deportation plans ramped up early this year, asylum seekers and Israeli activists began to organize a grassroots campaign to stop the deportations, including through vigils, protests, street art, and international pressure. Protests were held outside Ugandan and Rwandan embassies around the globe, hoping to push those countries to back out of the deals they had allegedly struck with Israel.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government sought to fan the flames between the Jewish Israeli residents of south Tel Aviv and the asylum seekers who live there. “Over the past year, we saw how the right drew up an equation that put local residents on one side and asylum seekers on the other,” says Shula Keshet, director...

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Activists discover right-wing mole during Gaza solidarity protest

Left-wing Israeli activists expose far-right activist who infiltrated a solidarity demonstration at the Israel-Gaza border.

Israeli left-wing activists discovered a right-wing mole who had joined them in a solidarity protest at the Gaza fence last Friday. The protests, in solidarity with Palestinian “Great Return March” protests on the Gaza side of the fence, have been taking place for several months now.

The mole, who has been posing as an anti-occupation activist both online and offline, turned out to be a member of the far-right nationalist group Im Tirzu. In addition to joining the demonstration under false pretenses, the man transmitted information about its timing and location to other Im Tirzu members.

“He asked a lot of questions on the ride [from Jerusalem to the Gaza fence],” said one activist who asked not to be named. “He wanted to know what we do at protests, whether we’ll encounter soldiers, where we are going, and when we’ll get there.”

The mole, who falsely identified himself as Emanuel Brosh, also asked the activists if they think IDF soldiers are deliberately trying to harm children in Gaza. The activists said they are worried he recorded their conversations and would edit them out of context, similar to what happened when far-right moles infiltrated Ta’ayush, a grassroots Palestinian-Israeli organization, in 2015, which led to the political arrest of three of its activists.

On the Gaza side of the fence on Friday, Israeli soldiers killed four Palestinians and wounded dozens more. Wafa News Agency identified the fatalities as Maher Yasin, 40; Abdul-Aziz Abu Shari’a, 28; Ayman Munir Mohammed Shabir, 18; and Mohammad Mo’een Jahjouh, 16.

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According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, Shabir was shot in the abdomen east of the Al-Bureij refugee camp while al-Jahjuh was killed after being hit in the neck by a bullet fired by Israeli troops. Abu Shari’a and Yasin died after being shot in separate incidents along the border fence. Four Palestinian paramedics and two journalists were reported to be among the injured.

More than 250 Palestinians have been killed by IDF fire since the protests began. Friday’s fatalities were the first since a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas went into effect in November.

On the Israeli side...

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IDF edited out key footage of deadly Gaza missile strike, researchers say

The Israeli military published drone footage of its air force bombing a seemingly empty building in Gaza. It left out the part where one of its missiles killed two teens sitting on the roof, independent investigators find.

The Israeli army edited out key footage of a missile strike that killed two Palestinian teenagers sitting on a Gaza rooftop earlier this year, according to an investigation by the UK-based Forensic Architecture institute and Israeli human rights group B’Tselem that was published this week.

In the late afternoon hours of June 14, 2018, two Palestinian teens, Luai Kahil and Amir al-Nimra, climbed to the rooftop of al-Katiba building in Gaza City. The selfie they took on the rooftop that day would be the last photo of the teens.

The Israeli air force launched four “warning missiles” toward the building, which it said was a Hamas training facility. The warning missiles, low-explosive missiles Israeli army calls “roof knocking,” are meant to warn civilians to leave the targeted building before larger bombs are dropped, according to the army.

Following the “warning missiles,” four larger missiles leveled the building. Kahil and al-Nimra, however, were killed by the first of the warning missiles. Twenty-three other Palestinians were wounded by the larger missiles.

On the day of the strike, the Israeli army released footage of the strikes on Twitter, which seemingly show four different “warning strikes” preceding the larger missiles. Based on the B’Tselem and Forensic Architecture investigation, however, it appears that the published video is not congruent with way the events actually unfolded.

Footage of the first strike, in which the boys were killed, was omitted from the montage released by the army. What the army portrayed as the first strike (the army public relations video does not specifically state that they are sequential) is in fact the third warning strike shown from a different camera and angle.

According to B’Tselem and Forensic Architecture, the omission of the footage of the first strike raises the question of whether Israeli military knew the two boys were sitting on the roof of the building when it launched the first missile, and whether it is trying to cover up that fact. (Disclosure: I participated in a previous investigation by Forensic Architecture.)

“Airstrikes in Gaza are marketed to the public by the Israeli military as surgical actions,...

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Sent to prison for trespassing on his own land

Israeli authorities have demolished Al-Araqib over 100 times. Before heading to prison for rebuilding and staying on his land, the village’s leader says he knows justice is on his side.

“I have a good feeling I’ll be in prison alongside Netanyahu,” Sheikh Sayeh Abu Madi’am jokes, sitting in a tent in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Al-Araqib, which Israeli authorities have demolished well over 100 times — 136 times, to be exact.

Later this month, Abu Madi’am is supposed to begin serving a 10-month prison sentence for unlawfully entering and trespassing on public land — his village’s land. A court case to resolve whether he owns the land, which his lawyers say should have been concluded before he could be convicted of trespassing on it, is still pending.

“I did not steal, I did not cheat,” Abu Madi’am says. “The law recognizes property purchased by Jews before 1948 but it does not recognize a Bedouin who bought land from another Bedouin in 1905. Our cemetery has been here since 1914. Where was the Israeli government back then?”

Al-Araqib, located just a few miles from Be’er Sheva in the south, has become a symbol of the Palestinian struggle against Israeli efforts to disposes the Bedouin community of their land and homes in the Negev, or al-Naqab in Arabic.

Al-Araqib’s land was expropriated under a 1953 law that allowed the state to easily take land for purposes of “development, settlement, and security.” Israeli authorities have never used the land, however, for any purpose.

In the 1970s, Israel allowed Bedouins to file land ownership claims. At least on paper, it offered them a fair process for adjudicating such claims. In the early 2000s, however, the state froze that process and began filing counter claims on plots of land claimed by Bedouin citizens of Israel, seeking to register the plots as state land. That’s what happened when Al-Araqib filed an ownership claim.

The state has a 100-percent success rate in all of the counter claims it has filed.

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I first met the sheikh in 2009 at the village’s first protest demanding that Israel connect their homes to water, electricity, and sewage grids. Israel refuses to connect...

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After a decade, evictions set to return in Sheikh Jarrah

Residents of Sheikh Jarrah are bracing for a new wave of evictions, ten years after Israeli settlers attempted to take over Palestinian homes in the embattled East Jerusalem neighborhood.

The Sabag and Hamad families are refugees from Jaffa and Haifa, respectively. Expelled from their homes during the 1948 war, they have been living in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, an area that was at least partially owned by Jews before the war, since 1956. They were resettled there by the Jordanian authorities and UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for providing humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees.

Although their original homes in Haifa and Jaffa are still standing, members of the Sabag and Hamad families cannot reclaim ownership over them. Soon after becoming a state, Israel enacted the Absentee Property Law, which transferred Palestinian refugees’ property into the hands of the state. It does not apply to Jewish families that fled their homes in 1948. They can reclaim their properties, like those in Sheikh Jarrah.

For over a decade, Jewish settler groups have been exploiting that lopsided legal situation to try and kick Palestinian families out of their homes in East Jerusalem.

“This is a political issue, it’s not an issue of justice,” says Saleh Diab, one of the neighborhood’s most prominent activists. “Everything we managed to stop 10 years ago will now resume.”

In 2009, after three families were evicted from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, Palestinian and Israeli activists started a protest movement that eventually mobilized thousands to demonstrate in the neighborhood every week against both evictions. The struggle led to pressure in the media and the international community and the evictions came to a halt. Since then, Israeli authorities have evicted only one family in Sheikh Jarrah.

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Now, with the backing of Trump, Diab fears Israel’s right-wing government and settler groups will have the green light to resume their attempts to take over more homes. Two weeks ago the Supreme Court rejected the Sabah and Hamad families’ appeals against their evictions. Residents of Sheikh Jarrah fear that could lead to a new wave of evictions affecting as many as 11 families and 500 people.

“We were shocked,” says 74-year-old Muhammad Sabag. “We...

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