The Bedouin of the Jordan Valley continue to be the victims of an ethnic cleansing program by the Israeli government. Fifteen families have been expelled from their land this month since Israel has declared the land they legally lease, to be a 'firing zone'. In the meanwhile the Israeli farming settlements in the valley continue to thrive with government incentives and infrastructure assistance. The 4-lane route 5 from Tel Aviv, slated to expant all the way to the Jordan valley, will eventually transform the region into a rural suburb, just a 35-minute drive from Tel Aviv. But first the remaining Bedouin need to be cleansed and herded into 'recognized' villages, little better than reservations or warehouses for this unwanted population.
In a local village. the elderly Abdel Rahim Basharat says it's not a village, it's a prison. "If you close off the shepherds from every direction, to them it's a jail, because their lives are tied to the land. If they are made to move to this village, they'll have to sell their flocks, their only source of income. Taking our lands from us is the same as taking our lives."
During the weekly demonstration at Beit Ummar, south of Bethlehem, Palestinian, Israeli, and International activists were attacked by soldiers after refusing to obey an order to leave the area. The protesters were demonstrating against the ongoing confiscation of village lands by the Karmei Tsur settlement, established in 1984, which now encroached just a few hundred meters from the first village house after more than 600 dunams (150 acres) were expropriated.
Journalists were injured by soldiers, including Associated Press and Reuters journalists. One person was hit on the head by a club, suffering a possible fracture while another had a sound grenade explode near his head damaging his ear drum. The Foreign Press Association has lodged a formal protest, citing numerous similar incidents involving its members over the past few months.
The protest began in an orderly and peaceful fashion until the five soldiers arrived. The soldiers behaved in an inept fashion, and were unable to make arrests or control the crowd, other than firing tear gas and sound grenades, and swinging their clubs.
Over the past 12 days Israeli Border Police destroyed agricultural facilities belonging to farmers in the Bakka Valley, just north of Hebron. This area is very fertile and productive, and has been under siege by the Israeli authorities for many years, while the adjacent Jewish settlements continue to expand. The Border Police assisted by laborers working for a private contractor, destroyed a cistern and removed irrigation pipes from 1.5 acres (6 dunams) of vegetable fields.
After demolishing a rainwater cistern, The Border Police and workers destroyed AND removed all the irrigation pipes from the fields serviced by the cistern.As families gathered to witness and protest the destruction, the Police used sound grenades to disperse the crowds. One women was removed by a Palestinian ambulance after suffering from the sound grenades. Others were treated at the site
And inside Israel . . . . . The unrecognized Bedouin village of al-Arakib, north of Be-er Sheva in the Negev, was destroyed in a swift action by bulldozers aided by 1,500 paramilitary police. The Israel Lands Administration claims that the village was built illegally on state land while the Bedouin families claim ownership. 850 trees were also uprooted. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel described the action as "a brutal act by the state against its own citizens".
The Negev Bedouin live partially in 45 unrecognized villages and partially in 'official' townships established by the Israeli authorities. Most of the villages were established before the state of Israel but not recognized as legal entities. They therefor receive no electricity, no water or sewage, no schools or clinics, and are frequently subjected to demolitions. More info
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