Press release 14/4/2006
Police and Israel Land Authority destroy crops on 100 acres of Bedouin "unrecognized" fields.
Inhabitants: due to low rainfall, we had meagre harvests anyway - now all we had is lost.
Gush Shalom: This is continuation of racist policy aimed at dispossessing the Negev Bedouins, possibly also the first 'down payment' in Olmert's coalition talks with arch-racist Avigdor Lieberman
At 6.30 am this morning, personnel of the Israel Lands Authority, equipped with tractors and accompanied by a huge force of police and Border Guards, launched a large-scale raid on the "unrecognized" Bedouin villages in the Negev.
The semi-military operation started at the village of Bir el Hamam, east of Tel Sheba, where the Authority people ploughed and destroyed the crops in the fields belonging to Ali Abu Issa and his family. Then they moved to the fields of Al Horam Family in the same village, and thence to those of Al Horti Family in neighboring Hirbat al Watan and of the Abu Kef Family at al-Garin. Altogether, some four hundred dunams (roughly 100 acres) of wheat and barley were completely destroyed, source of livelihood for dozens of people.
"There was low rainfall this year, and we expected only meagre harvests - now everything which did grow is completely destroyed" said the villagers. "When there is low rainfall, the government gives compensations to Jewish farmers. What they send to us is destruction of the little we have".
The Israel Lands Authority defines these villages as "unrecognized" and "illegal" and does not recognize the Bedouins' ownership of the fields - though these families and tribes have been cultivating them for generations, long before the state of Israel came into being. Land ownership laws in Israel have been amended in a way which makes it next to impossible for Bedouins to prove in a court of law ownership of their ancestral lands.
"Government policy in recent years regards the Negev Bedouins as 'an obstacle to the development of the Negev' and implements a systematic campaign of home demolitions and crop destruction, with the intention of causing the Bedouins to lose hope and abandon their land" says Sliman abu Obeid, Field Coordinator for the Regional Council of the Unrecognized Villages.
"The treatment of the Negev Bedouins, citizens of Israel, is a badge of infamy for our country" says Adam Keller, spokesperson of Gush Shalom (Israeli Peace Bloc). "The intensified aggression against the Bedouins might also be the first 'down payment' in Acting PM's Olmert courting of the arch-racist Avigdor Lieberman, slated to be a government coalition partner. Lieberman's entire elections campaign in the recent parliamentary elections consisted of racist demagoguery against Israel's Arab citizens. Specifically, Lieberman and his partner Pini Badash, Mayor of the Be'er Sheba suburb of Omer, spent much time and energy on inciting Jewish inhabitants of the Negev against their Bedouin neighbors.
H'sein al Rafia'a, Chair of the Regional Council of the Unrecognized Villages +972-507-716645 <email@example.com>
Sliman abu Obeid, the Council's Field Coordinator +972-508-519806
Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson +972-3-5565804,