Palestinian Bedouins are at the center of new phase of Israeli crackdown who want to seize their farming lands.
Hundreds of Palestinians suffered injuries following a crackdown by Israeli security forces. The Palestinian Bedouins were holding a protest against Israeli sustainable forestry activities on their lands.
Less than a thousand people took to streets on Thursday afternoon. Israel welcomed the silent protesters with hundreds of soldiers who used tear gas, skunk water, and stun grenades to disperse them.
Reports indicate that Israelis arrested more than 15 demonstrators during the clashes. The protest occurred at a major traffic crossing at the entry to the Palestinian Bedouin community in Sa’wa.
Direct observers stated that the officers assaulted the rally quickly after it started. According to a human rights activists in the region, “they used a lot of violence, beatings; there are people injured and others detained.”
The new surge in tensions started earlier this week, when bulldozers came in the adjoining community of al-Atrash, accompanied by massive police escort. The Jewish National Fund, which is a quasi-governmental organization, took the heavy vehicles to the Palestinian regions. The aim was clear: they demolished Bedouin agricultural fields to plant trees.
Israel claims that the farming lands it’s trying to seize are state properties. Local Bedouins had been protesting the plan for days before clashes erupted. Villagers who took to streets to protect the grounds they used to produce farming products were subject to forcible detention. The footages and photos from the scene confirms the violence against the peaceful protesters.
More than seven people faced arbitrary imprisonment among whom were some children. A journalist from the community was also subject to Israeli abuse. Israeli police fired stun grenades and bullets at some camps in al-Atrash and al-Sa’wa and arrested some protesters there.
Bedouins; From Displacement to Cleansing
Israeli forces put the villages under besiege with no allowance for entry of exit in recent days. The mission of JNF is to create and manage property exclusively for the Jewish community. It holds roughly 13% of Israeli non-private land which accounts for 93 percent of the entire property in Israel.
The ongoing JNF tree-plantation operation would harm thousands of hectares of private Bedouin land in the region. The lands host over 28,000 people living in numerous communities. Israel keeps the policy of refraining from recognizing the traditional communities.
Although most families in the region resided there before the foundation of Israel claims they belong to the government. Palestinians have always used the lands as a means of producing crops, both for consumption and sale.
Israel government authorized residents to apply for registration during the 1970s. However, their land-ownership disputes have remained unresolved despite their cooperation in over the past four decades.
Recent events are part of a multiple decades of Israeli federal policy to Judaize the area through economic investments totaling millions of dollars. They were designed to entice more Jewish settlers to move to these regions, as evidenced by Israeli government pronouncements and intentions, as well as human rights complaints.
Israeli political apparatus and its executive arms, ILA and JNF, aim to grow the forest project to more than on 45,000 hectares in the Bedouins lands. The target is to safeguard open areas and environment from unauthorized control. The JNF oversees about half of “The Israel Land Authority’s” governing board, which administers the great bulk of Israel’s territory.
The seizure of a great majority of Israeli-held lands occured during the years that followed the establishment of the state of Israel. The so-called “absentee property” was seized following the forced eviction of Israel during the 1948.