Israeli Forces Raid Camp Protesting Bedouin Relocation for Fifth Time

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on Tuesday raided the “Jerusalem Gate” protest tents near the Abu Dis area in annexed East Jerusalem for the fifth time, a local coordinator told Ma’an news agency.

Thaer Anees, coordinator for the Jerusalem district popular resistance committees, said the IOF and an Israeli intelligence unit broke into the camp, and threatened to tear it down within 24 hours.

The protest camp was set up by Palestinian activists to express opposition to Israeli plans to expulse Bedouins living in an area near East Jerusalem designated as E1 by Israel and relocate them to the West Bank, as part of a plan to expand illegal Zionist settlements in the area.

Construction in E1 would divide the West Bank and make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state, as envisaged by the internationally backed two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, almost impossible.

The protest camp site was set up last week by Palestinian activists and local Abu Dis residents to demonstrate against another Israeli plan to expel up to 40,000 Bedouins from the Negev desert in Occupied Palestine.

A spokesman for an East Jerusalem local committee, Hani Halabiya, told Ma'an that dozens of local and international activists as well as nearby villagers have been coming to the camp on daily basis in protest of the continuous confiscation of Palestinian land.

In January 2013, Palestinian activists set-up over 25 tents to protest the Israeli settlement plans and protect Palestinian land from annexation.

The protest camp, which was called Bab al-Shams, or “Gate of the Sun,” was later demolished by Israeli forces.

After that, activists set up the al-Karama (Dignity) protest camp in Beit Iksa, and the Ahfad Younis camp in Eizariya. All campsites were attacked after demonstrators refused orders to clear the streets.

The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-infamous Balfour Declaration, called for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

Jewish immigration rose considerably under the British administration of Palestine, which was consolidated by a League of Nations "mandate" in 1922.

In 1948, with the end of the mandate, a new state – Israel – was declared inside historical Palestine.

As a result, some 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes, or were forcibly expelled, while hundreds of Palestinian villages and cities were razed to the ground by invading Zionist forces.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state — a move never recognized by the international community.

Palestinians with Israeli citizenship complain of routine discrimination, particularly in housing, land access and employment.

There are about 260,000 Bedouin in historical Palestine, mostly living in and around the Negev in the arid south.

The Israeli government classifies approximately 40 villages in the Negev desert as "unrecognized," arguing that the roughly 53,000 Palestinian Bedouins living there cannot prove their ownership of the land and are hence living there “illegally.”

Claiming that most of the land in the Negev desert is Israeli "state property," Israel has repeatedly demolished Bedouin homes in the area.

In November, the IOF razed the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev Desert for the 78th time in four years.

The village was demolished for the first time in July 2010, before being rebuilt with metal and wood.

Dozens of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship living in Araqib say that they have owned the land since before Israel came into being in 1948.

Bedouins are regularly attacked by the IOF, who killed 22-year-old Sami al-Jaar in the southern Negev region on January 14. During Jaar’s funeral, a 45-year-old Bedouin man, Sami Ibrahim Zayadna, suffocated to death due to tear gas sprayed by Israeli forces.

(Ma’an, Al-Akhbar)

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