Negev Bedouin protest demolition orders for ‘recognized’ village
TEL AVIV, Israel – Around 2,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel protested in the southern city of Beersheba on Thursday after their village received demolition orders from the authorities, Israeli press reported.
The Palestinian residents of Bir Hajaj chanted “Yes to recognition! No to destruction!” outside the court and government offices, Haaretz newspaper said.
A large Israeli police force escorted officials to the village last week to hand over demolition orders, sparking clashes that were dispersed with tear gas and shock grenades.
“We’re demonstrating because as a result of the demolitions, there are people in the town who have no roof over their heads,” Haaretz quoted Bir Hadaj resident Ayash Abu Assa saying.
“The police decided to attack us. They want to prove that they are in control and that there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Bir Hajaj is among the Bedouin communities that have been formally “recognized” by the Israeli government.
Israel classifies approximately 40 villages in the Negev as unrecognized, arguing that the 53,000 Palestinian Bedouins living there cannot prove land ownership. The Bedouin communities say the land is their ancestral home.
“Despite (Bir Hajaj) being a recognized village, none of the residents have received permits to build new houses,” the director of the Adalah Legal Center for Minority Rights, Thabet Abu Rass, told Haaretz.
“While the media is busy with the (Israeli) elections, the state has opened a war of destruction against the Bedouin villages.”
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