Bedouin Update: Civil Protests in Front of the Knesset Draw Attention to Negev Home Demolitions

I’ve been writing for a couple of years about the disturbing sequence of events in the Bedouin communities of the Negev, as home demolitions incite greater frustration among the Bedouin communities and their leaders.  Recent protests at the Knesset seem to be getting more attention from the Israeli authorities (I received this message July 23 from Faisal Sawalha, spokesperson for the RCUV, whom I met with Hussein Al-Rafay’a on a trip to the Negev in 2005):

Thanks to the RCUV’s [Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages] pressure: the evacuation and home demolition in Um Al-Hiran Stopped

Mr. Hussein Al-Rafay’a, the RCUV’s chairperson, and the RCUV leadership who are in the Refugee Camp for the Victims of Home Demolition in front of the Knesset in Jerusalem since July 16 got information this morning that a large number of policemen with their vehicles and bulldozers were near Omer on their way to demolish homes in the village of Atteer Um Al-Hiran, where 20 homes were demolished three weeks ago. Mr. Al-Rafay’a called people in the relevant ministries and governmental offices asking them not to demolish homes. After that, they received a call from the Ministry of Housing saying that the forces will not demolish homes today.

Mr. Al-Rafay’a sad, "We started the Refugee Camp last week to protest against home demolition. After that, we talked to people from different governmental ministries. The Ministries of Interior and Housing said that they will stop home demolition if the Legal Counselor of the government approves this agreement. We are still waiting for his decision. There are people in the governmental offices in the Negev that do not want this agreement. When I called the ministries this morning, they did not know about the home demolition that was planned today."

المجلس الاقليمي للقرى غير المعترف بها في النقب
המועצה האזורית לכפרים הבלתי מוכרים בנגב
The Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages in the Negev
tel: 972-8-6283043
fax: 972-8-6283315

There are two sides to every story, of course, but, in my view, the Bedouin community issue will not be resolved through government stonewalling.

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