At the beginning of last week, Israeli forces have once again targeted heavily Palestinian Bedouin communities throughout the territory they control. In Um al-Hiran, in the Naqab, the demolitions have lead to the killing of a local school teacher and many injuries. In the Jordan Valley, in Khirbet at-Tawil, Israel continued its almost daily attacks against the Bedouin communities and villages located in Area C. Both cases attest to the cruel ethnic cleansing policy Israel is pursuing against the Palestinian Bedouin on both sides of the Green Line.
Demolitions of Palestinian villages in Area C
On last Tuesday morning, Israeli forces destroyed a Palestinian house and an rural structure for sheets in Khirbet al-Tawil, close to the village of Aqraba, south of Nablus and at the western margin of the Jordan Valley. It is situated on the line between the Israeli settlement bloc of Ariel and the Jordan Valley where Israel wants to build a contiguous settlement belt to isolated the northern West Bank from the center and the south. Khirbet al-Tawil is therefore under extreme threat of ethnic cleansing.
Khirbet al-Tawil is located in Area C, which is completely controlled by the Israeli military forces.
Palestinians living in Area C need an Israeli permit to build any kind of structure in their own land. However, almost all the Palestinian applications for building permits in this area are denied by the Israeli authorities. Without another option, Palestinians build their homes and farms disregarding the Israeli permit system under the risk of demolitions. The entire system including the demolitions infringe upon Israeli obligations under international law and are illegal.
Most of the open space and agricultural land of Aqraba in Area C has been taken by Israeli forces in order to establish settlements, military bases and the construction of Israeli settlement roads.
Khirbet Al Tawil has been subjected to many attacks by the occupation forces, including a huge number of demolition and eviction orders. Under the pretext that this community is located within Area C, Israeli forces have displaced many citizens to establish military zones to the training of the Israeli army. Yet, even under extreme pressure of expulsion the people continue to resist displacement and the final destruction of Khirbet al Tawil.
Ethnic cleansing in the Jordan Valley
The demolitions are not a specifically situation of the Aqraba region. All the Jordan Valley, most of it categorised as Area C, suffers from a myriad of Israeli violations in order to expel the Palestinian population from the region. Thousands of dunums of Palestinian land have been confiscated to be used by the Israeli army for military training operations or as so-called ‘nature reserves’, thus preventing Palestinians from accessing their land.
There are many military bases and military ‘observation points’ across the whole length of the Valley. From the hilltops, the soldiers are always surveilling every Palestinian community. This network of Israeli military posts gives the Israel Occupation Force complete control of the Valley, and the ability to act rapidly without barriers or warnings.
20% of the Jordan Valley has been designated as ‘Nature Reserves’ by the occupation. Israel has attempted to justify its occupation by renaming military training areas as nature reserves, ‘green-washing’ brutal colonisation. In fact, the designation of Palestinian land as nature reserves hides policies of land confiscation, confiscation of the livestock of the Palestinian communities and home demolitions.
50% of the Jordan Valley land is controlled by Israel’s illegal settlements and 45% is military bases, closed military zones for training or nature reserve. In other words, Palestinians are barred from accessing 95% of the land of the Jordan Valley. This all makes it increasingly difficult for Palestinian communities to live and to earn their livelihoods in the Valley.
Demolition of Palestinians Bedouins villages in Negev
Last Wednesday, the Israeli forces raided as well the Bedouin village of Um al-Hiran, in the Naqab (Negev). The entire village was brutally demolished at dawn. Um al-Hiran is a Bedouin village located in the Wadi Atir area of the Naqab. Located near Hura, the village is one of dozens Bedouin villages that Israel simply refuses to ‘recognise’ and hence pretends to destroy.
Two people were killed and several others were injured when many police officers, with demolition equipment and bulldozers, entered Umm al-Hiran to demolish the houses and infrastructure of the people. Israeli police shot and killed a 50-year-old local teacher, Yaqub Musa Abu Qi’an, in the confrontation. One Israeli police officer was also killed when the vehicle of the Yaqub Musa got out of control after he was shot by the police and caused an accident. Against the accusation levelled at the person assassinated, local residents and activists at the scene insist that Qi’an’s car veered toward the officers only after he was shot and lost control of the vehicle.
The continued displacement of the Bedouin people
People from Um al-Hiran were initially expelled from their lands in Khirbet Zubaleh in 1948, when the state of Israel was created. During the 1950s, Israeli military government forcibly moved those families to the area where they are living today.
On the beginning of 2000s, the Israeli authorities developed a plan to build ‘The Jewish town of Hiran’ in the Naqab desert, on the lands where today the Bedouin village stands. Hence, the Israel Land Authority (ILA) demanded to expel the people from Um al-Hiran a second time, this time from the place they had been forced after Israel expelled them from their original homes. Now they are supposed to be ‘relocated’ to the government-planned town of Hura.
As a result of the Israeli government policy of ‘judaizing the Negev’, over the last decade many Palestinian Bedouin villages in Naqab have seen increasing home demolitions to expel them from their communities.