On Monday, 15/7/2013, a wave of demonstrations swept across occupied Palestine in anger and condemnation of the Prawer Plan. The Prawer Plan, named after Ehud Prawer the former deputy chair of national security, aims to confiscate about 800,000 dunums of land in the Negev, displacing about 50,000 Palestinians and demolishing 35 Palestinian villages. A general Anger Strike was also called throughout many parts of the occupied Palestinian territories
The Negev area, which covers about 13 million dunums, has been subject to a number of resolutions adopted by the Israeli government in order to rid the region of Bedouin Palestinians and confiscate their land. This is an integral part of the ethnic cleansing process that has been practiced on a daily basis against Palestinians. According to the records of the British Mandate, the 12,600,000 dunums of land are the lawful property of the Negev Bedouin Arabs, who are already struggling to maintain ownership of the remaining 2 million dunums they are left with as Zionists have already confiscated the rest
The first law issued against the Negev Bedouin was the Absentees Property Law in 1951. The law was framed in such a way as to ensure that it applied to every Palestinian or resident in Palestine that had left his usual place of residence (post 1948 this applied to a large number of people!). “Absentees” or “present absentees”, as defined by this law, lost ownership of their land and if they “violated” the law by remaining on this land they could be subjected to expulsion and the demolition of any buildings found there. These actions were further consolidated in 1953 by the Land Acquisition Law which legalised these expropriations (retrospectively in many cases) for military purposes or the establishment of Jewish settlements. In 1965 the Absentees Property Law (Amendment No. 3) facilitated further confiscation of Muslim land and property.
These laws severely limited the movement of the Bedouins and many were forced to move to an area between Dimona, Arad and Beer Sheeva and live in groups of tents, shacks or stone houses. What is more, this area does not fall under any local or regional authority and the population residing there cannot claim any basic services. After the Camp David Accords for “peace” in the late seventies, almost another 85,000 dunums were confiscated to set up military camps to replace those that were in the Sinai region. Then again, in 2004, the Expulsion of Invaders Law demonised Bedouins as “attacking trespassers” on their own land and caused then to be subject to yet more demolitions. Alongside this, since 2002, the Israeli Government has authorised the harmful spraying of crops in the unrecognised Negev Bedouin villages in order to kill the plants. On September the 11th, 2011 the Netanyahu government approved the Prawer Plan and in that year alone 1,000 houses were demolished; things have continued in the same vein ever since.
This is the backdrop to the extensive strikes, demonstrations and protests that were organised across the region on Monday. Characteristically these were suppressed by the Israeli occupation forces and various participants were arrested and injured. In the Negev the main road was closed causing a traffic crisis, various demonstrators were beaten by occupation forces and 16 were arrested. In other areas across ’48 territories, such as Upper Galilee, Um al-Fahm, Sakhnin, Nazareth, Shefa’Amr and Jaffa where thousands turned up to protest, main roads and intersections were closed and demonstrations also suppressed. Tear gas and sound bombs were fired at participants and many were arrested. In Sakhnin, of the 12 people that were arrested one was a minor
In the Gaza Strip dozens of people participated in a demonstration calling for the need to take responsibility for what is happening in this displacement process and a group of young Palestinians organised another demonstration against the Prawer Plan at the statue of the Unknown Soldier. Police were sent by the Hamas government to stop the protesters and threaten those participating with arrest, however despite this, demonstrators re-assembled themselves and the demonstration lasted for 20 minutes.
In the West Bank, more than 300 Palestinians gathered in Ramallah to march against the Prawer Plan. The march began at Al Manara in the centre of town and proceeded out towards the nearby Bethel settlement. When marchers were prevented from reaching their destination by Palestinian police chants sprang up against the security services, the normalisation of restrictions and the Oslo Convention. Similar demonstrations also took place in Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron and Jenin and in total 26 people were detained
Finally, hundreds of Palestinians gathered in Jerusalem at Bab al-Amoud/Damascus Gate to show their anger at the proposed scheme and were met by mounted police who eventually suppressed the demonstration and arrested 4 participants