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Arab Anger Over Israeli Plans To Relocate Bedouins

posted 15 Jul 2013, 05:07 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 15 Jul 2013, 05:08 ]

Scuffles erupted between protesters and Israeli police in the Negev, during a demonstration against relocating Bedouins.

 BEERSHEVA ISRAEL (JULY 15, 2013) (REUTERS) - Protesters scuffle with Israeli forces during demonstrations on Monday (July 15) against an Israeli cabinet plan to relocate some 30,000 Bedouin citizens from the southern Negev.

According to the Israeli police spokesman, 800 protesters gathered for the demonstration of which 15 were detained. Men and women chanted and waved signs reading 'No for Prawer Law'.

The Israeli authorities say that Bedouin homes built in the Negev are illegal and were constructed without planning permission. The Bedouin argue that they have lived their nomadic lifestyle in the Negev for thousands of years and that the land belongs to their ancestors.

Arab member of the Israeli KnessetTalab Asana joined demonstrators to express his outrage.

"This plan threatens in the displacement of thirty Palestinian villages, and the relocating of a 60,000 population, and the confiscation of 215,000 acres. This plan represents ethnic cleansing, transfer, and the Israeli government is trying to enact a law for discrimination and racism," Talab said.

A protester voiced his outrage at the failure of the Israeli government to consult with the Bedouin.

"The protest today is to insist that the people will not accept or respect this discriminative law, we will not respect this law that aims to take away our land, full stop, we will not agree, we will not respect this law, that's why we are starting this in a peaceful way, but all options are available," said protester Aziz Al-Touri.

The Prawer plan, named after the Israeli official, Ehud Prawer, who led an inter-ministerial team assigned to find a solution to the issue of unrecognised villages in the Negev, which the Israeli parliament, the Knesset approved on the first reading last week.

The Bedouin live a semi-nomadic lifestyle, rearing livestock in the deserts ofsouthern Israel. Many of them live in extreme poverty as most of the villages lack basic services such as water and electricity. The Bedouin say their claim to the Negev precedes the establishment of the state of Israel.

About 45,000 of Israel's 180,000 bedouin citizens live in villages not recognised by the state. The Bedouin comprise 12 percent of Arab-Israeli citizens.