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PHOTOS: This is what it looks like when your village is demolished

When the bulldozers turned up in Umm el-Hiran last week, they were accompanied by hundreds of armed Israeli police, who locked down the village as residents were forced to watch their homes being destroyed.

 By Michal Rotem

Israeli police officers stand guard as bulldozers demolish homes in Umm el-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Yuṣawiruna Project, Negev Coexistence Forum)

Israeli police officers stand guard as bulldozers demolish homes in Umm el-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Yuṣawiruna Project, Negev Coexistence Forum)

“It was the first time that the police had acted so violently towards us. We knew the night before that there would be home demolitions, but we didn’t know that such a large number of security forces would arrive so early in the morning. I left the house and saw the whole village filled with armed police officers.”

A resident of Umm el-Hiran, who prefers to remain anonymous, recounts what she saw when hundreds of Israeli police officers accompanied the bulldozers that showed up early Wednesday morning to carry out demolitions. The Bedouin village is slated to be replaced with a Jewish town, Hiran.

Bulldozers make their way into Umm el-Hiran in order to carry out home demolitions, January 18, 2017. (Yuṣawiruna Project, Negev Coexistence Forum)

Bulldozers make their way into Umm el-Hiran in order to carry out home demolitions, January 18, 2017. (Yuṣawiruna Project, Negev Coexistence Forum)

Israeli police cars line the roads of Umm el-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Yuṣawiruna Project, Negev Coexistence Forum)

Israeli police cars line the roads of Umm el-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Yuṣawiruna Project, Negev Coexistence Forum)

“We all stood in the mosque and all the police were armed, they didn’t let us leave,” she continues.

Residents were prevented from leaving the area of the village mosque for several hours while demolitions were carried out, Umm el-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Yuṣawiruna Project, Negev Coexistence Forum)

Residents were prevented from leaving the area of the village mosque for several hours while demolitions were carried out, Umm el-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Yuṣawiruna Project, Negev Coexistence Forum)

“They came ready for violence, and violence is what they wanted. I felt as if I was in a war and worried for my children who were standing beside me, because of all the weapons around us. I was in shock.”

Youth from the village wait for the demolitions to be over, Umm el-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Yuṣawiruna Project, Negev Coexistence Forum)

Youth from the village wait for the demolitions to be over, Umm el-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Yuṣawiruna Project, Negev Coexistence Forum)

Residents being kept within the grounds of the village mosque, Umm el-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Yuṣawiruna Project, Negev Coexistence Forum)

Residents being kept within the grounds of the village mosque, Umm el-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Yuṣawiruna Project, Negev Coexistence Forum)

She documented the demolitions that morning, which took place just hours after Israeli police had shot a Bedouin man driving his car into the village, who then struck and killed an Israeli officer with his vehicle, and bled to death himself shortly after.

Residents of Umm el-Hiran sit on the ground opposite police, January 18, 2017. (Yuṣawiruna Project, Negev Coexistence Forum)

Residents of Umm el-Hiran sit on the ground opposite police, January 18, 2017. (Yuṣawiruna Project, Negev Coexistence Forum)

The woman took the photographs from her home, documenting the morning’s violent events through the window of her house or from the roof.

Bulldozers demolish a home in Umm el-Hiran as police stand guard, January 18, 2017. (Yuṣawiruna Project, Negev Coexistence Forum)

Bulldozers demolish a home in Umm el-Hiran as police stand guard, January 18, 2017. (Yuṣawiruna Project, Negev Coexistence Forum)

The photographs were taken as part of the Yuṣawiruna Project, which the Negev Coexistence Forum has been running in unrecognized Bedouin villages for the last few years. The project involves groups of women in each village documenting their daily lives, including human rights violations. The women study together, learning about human rights and photography.

Michal Rotem works for the Negev Forum for Coexistence and is based in Be’er Sheva. This story first appeared in Hebrew on Local Call, where she is a blogger. Read it here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. R5

      Totally the #1 crime against humanity, and human rights, and war crime even imaginable. Can someone please think of a historical precedent stronger than WWII for me, because I can’t remember anything that’s happened in recorded history as totally savage as this.

      Reply to Comment
      • Jamie

        Off the top of my head: Rwanda, Srebrenica, My Lai, Sabra and Shatila.

        Reply to Comment
        • R5

          At Mauthausen, prisoners would have to choose between a bullet to the head and pushing someone off a cliff, but a lot of ppl chose to simply jump. The leftist ignorance about what actually took place during WWII sometimes astonishes me.

          Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        This is a rather psychopathic response. Imagine a serial rapist or a child molester or a brutal loan shark coldly and cavalierly dismissing his crimes by saying “Totally the #1 crime against humanity, and human rights, and war crime even imaginable. Can someone please think of a historical precedent stronger than WWII for me, because I can’t remember anything that’s happened in recorded history as totally savage as this.” I can imagine Ted Bundy saying that. I can imagine a two bit punk gangster saying it too. The occupation and the treatment of Israeli citizens like these at Umm el-Hiran is a form of organized crime. That’s a way one should view it to really understand much of it in my opinion. Gangsters.

        Reply to Comment
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