FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Second Nakba?

by SAM GILBERT

Ramallah.

August 1, 2013: Thousands gathered throughout Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories in protest of the Prawer Plan and the displacement of approximately 40,000 Bedouin in the Negev region of Israel.  A “day of rage” was called and demonstrations were held in both northern and southern Israel as well as the Gaza strip, Ramallah, and East Jerusalem.  Clashes broke out in the contested capital as protestors marched from Damascus gate through the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and back to the entrance of the Old City.

During the march Palestinian youth damaged an Israeli vehicle, smashing the windshield of a moving car on the road leading away from the central bus station.   Police descended upon the crowed, arresting a young Palestinian boy.  The demonstrators regrouped and marched back to Damascus gate where clashes with Israeli Defense forces (IDF) broke out as soldiers charged the crowd with mounted officer and bombarded the streets with flash bang grenade fired from the roofs above.

The Jerusalem streets were especially packed this day as thousands of Palestinians returned from the Al-Aqsa mosque and Iftar (break fast) dinner.  The clashes were an unwelcome surprise for many in this last week of Ramadan.  As Nadia a Palestinian mother of two told me. “If the police would leave there would be no problem.  Instead my children are terrified, one bomb exploded right next to us, they shot it down by the gate where the families were.  My girls, they wouldn’t stop crying.”

Earlier the same day a large demonstration composed of Israeli, Palestinian and International activists was held at Lehavim junction, 15 kilometers north of Beer Sheba in the heart of the Bedouin area of the Negev.  Hundreds gathered on a hilltop overlooking the intersection of Route 31 and 40, waving Palestinian flags and chanting political slogans.  As the demonstration progressed Palestinians broke down the police barricades and confronted the large contingent of Israeli security forces.  The protest remained peaceful even as mounted Israeli cavalry impeded the demonstrator’s access to the road below.

Prawer Plan

Outside of Israel and Palestine more than a dozen international solidarity protests were held as people came out in protest of what has been called the Second Nakba (catastrophe), connecting the forced displacement of the Negev Bedouin to the expulsion of approximately 800,000 Palestinians during Israel’s war of independence in 1948.  Amir who works for the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality, and who helped organize the event told me that the protests were about “mobilizing people in response to the Prawer-Plan and the systematic displacement that has been taking place in the Negev for decades.”

The Prawer bill, initially approved in 2011, is a settlement plan for those Arab Bedouins living in unrecognized villages in the Negev.  The plan passed first reading in the Israeli Knesset last month by a narrow margin.  It will have to pass two further readings and if fully implemented could lead to the displacement of 40,000 or more Arab Bedouins, this according to Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.

Bedouin in the Negev

The Bedouin presence in the Negev dates back to the 7th century.   It is estimated that prior to 1948 some 60,000-90,000 Bedouin lived in the region. During Israel’s war of Independence the majority of the Bedouin fled to neighboring states.  Of the 11,000 that remained, 85% were forced off their ancestral land and into a restricted zone in the northern part of the Negev desert.  These people were promised the right to return to their lands in 6 months, but to this day no Bedouin has been allowed to return nor have they been given any proprietary rights to the lands they were forced to settle.

Beginning in 1969 the Israeli government began its “comprehensive approach” to the Bedouin “problem.” The State established townships and offered the Bedouin land in these government planned towns, on the condition that they gave up all ancestral claims to their original land. Of the nearly 200,000 Bedouins that live in the Negev today, some 100,000 reside in one of the 7 urban townships, which have the highest rates of poverty in all the country.  The remaining Bedouins population lives in one of the unrecognized villages considered illegal under Israeli law, and subject to demolition. The official Israeli policy is to deny these towns’ basic services such as water, sanitation, education and health care.

The Prawer plan is the extension of an Israeli policy, in place since the 1960s, to minimize the land inhabited by the Bedouins and concentrate the population in areas that would not be detrimental to the interest of New coming Israeli settlers.  This policy is at work on both sides of the Green line, the same discriminatory land laws at work in the occupied territories are used to take land from the Arab Bedouin of the Naqab

Most important of all has been the Israeli courts manipulation of Ottoman law, whereby Israel has declared that all desert land belongs to the state by virtue of its “mawat” (dead) categorization. This tactic of declaring land Terra Nullis (land belonging to no one) has been the ideological underpinning of many settler states, from the U.S. to Australia to Israel.   This categorization seeks to rationalize the dispossession and ethnic cleansing of natives by describing land as “uninhabited,”  “unused” or in this case “dead”.  This process is in full affect in the Negev where 65% of the land has been confiscated for public purposes.

Already this year 140 Bedouin homes have been destroyed by the Israeli government in the midst of widespread international condemnation of the practice.  More protests will undoubtedly take place in Historic Palestine and around the globe as the solidarity campaign continues.  At last 20 people were arrested throughout Israel and Palestine.

Sam Gilbert is a journalist based in Ramallah.

 

Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail