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Authorities start process of replacing Bedouin town with a Jewish one

Israel moved the residents to the plot of land they lives on today. Decades later, the state wants to displace them again — to build a Jewish town on the ruins of their homes.

Police arrest a youth from Umm el-Hiran as construction crews prepare to build a fence around village homes, July 31, 2016. (Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality)

Police arrest a youth from Umm el-Hiran as construction crews prepare to build a fence around village homes, July 31, 2016. (Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality)

Israeli police detained five people Sunday protesting the impending displacement of Umm el-Hiran, an “unrecognized” Bedouin village in southern Israel on top of which authorities plan to build a Jewish town, named Hiran.

Among the detainees were youths from the village, and former Rabbis for Human Rights president Rabbi Arik Ascherman. All of the detainees were released late Sunday night. Another woman was hospitalized for injuries she sustained from police.

Police arrived with a tractor and several surveyors to the village on Sunday in order to start building a fence adjacent to the Bedouin villagers’ homes, presumably in order to begin construction of the Jewish town meant to replace them.

Umm el-Hiran is one of dozens of so-called “unrecognized villages,” in which approximately 100,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel live without electricity, water, and other basic services the state refuses to provide.

An elderly Bedouin woman from the unrecognized village of Umm el-Hiran argues with Israeli police officers as construction crews prepare to fence in the village’s homes, July 31, 2016. (Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality)

An elderly Bedouin woman from the unrecognized village of Umm el-Hiran argues with Israeli police officers as construction crews prepare to fence in the village’s homes, July 31, 2016. (Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality)

Here is a quick summary of this history of Umm el-Hiran: Long before the establishment of the State of Israel, members of the Abu Qi’an family lived in an area called Khirbet Zubaleh.

In 1956, the Israeli military government forcibly moved the Qi’an family to the location where they live today. (Their former land was given to Kibbutz Shoval as agricultural land.)

This forced land “swap” is well documented in state archives, but despite the fact that the Qi’an family was settled in its current location by the state itself, its homes have never been connected to the electricity or water grids.

Last year Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that the state can change its mind and take back the land it gave to the al-Qi’an family. In place of their current village, Umm el-Hiran, from which they are to be expelled, a new township for religious Jews will be established.

For the past few years, Jewish Hiran’s future residents have been waiting for their new homes at an encampment in the adjacent forest of Yatir.

“The government has no problem with Jewish citizens living on this property – so why should they have a problem with us?” Raed Abu al-Qi’an, a resident and activist from the village, told +972 last year. “They allow rural communities to be built for Jews across the Negev – why not us?”

“We have always said, and continue to say, that we have no objections to Jewish families living here or nearby us – but not in place of us. That is racism and injustice,” he added.

Noam Rotem contributed to this report.

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    1. Ben

      ““We have always said, and continue to say, that we have no objections to Jewish families living here or nearby us – but not in place of us.”

      So how about it, Israeli Jews? I challenge any one of those among you to explain to me why it is that these non-Jews living on this land are, as Michael Omer-Man clearly explains, ready to accept you as their neighbors, but you apparently–and please explain if I misunderstand, I am eager to hear you out–are not ready to accept as neighbors the non-Jews living on this spot. Non-Jews living, by force of the Israeli state since 1956, on this spot of Umm el-Hiran. For sixty years. And living in the nearby region for centuries before that sixty years, but forcibly moved to their current location. What is it? What is it about the precious purity of the Israeli Jews moving in, that they find it unbearable to live next to non-Jews? Please explain this.

      Any number of follow-on questions arise. What does it say about the state of Israel today that its Jewish majority approves, by active or passive acquiescence, this state of affairs? This is the same country that wants to lecture the United States, it’s resolute benefactor and protector, about democracy and justice? Yeah? I await your replies.

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    2. Average American

      Janet Hudgins asks the right question. Why do we grovel to The Jewish State, and to The Jewish Nation globally, All Jews Anywhere. Why do we support The Jewish State in what we otherwise would not support. It appears the tail, The Jewish State, is wagging the dog USA. By its name, The Jewish State clearly declares its intent that it be controlled by Jews for the benefit of Jews, and this is of course its Zionist foundation since inception. By its wagging of USA, through spending our sons and daughters lives and equipment and treasury instead of their own, in Iraq, Iran, and Syria, they clearly are following the Zionist foundation of controlling all of the Middle East, which they blatantly call The Land Of Israel, for their exclusive benefit. I hope USA understands that it is being used and will get none of the benefits. The Land Of Israel will drop USA, because we are gullible goyim unfit to touch their wine glass.

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