Israel: Uphold the right to land and decent living for Bedouins in the Naqab
This morning, the residents of the AlAraqib village in the Naqab (Negev) witnessed yet another demolition of their homes and community by the Israeli Interior Ministry. The Palestinian Bedouin population of AlAraqib is being confined to the village cemetery by police forces, barred from protecting their properties or salvaging their belongings. The Israeli Interior Ministry and Land Authority have also continued their destructive policy by uprooting the olive trees that represent the foundation of the Palestinian community’s agricultural livelihood, replacing them with forest trees as a means to assert control and strip the indigenous Bedouin community of their land rights.
This demolition is part of the larger, ongoing policy of the Israeli government, known as the Prawer Plan, to forcibly transfer the Arab Bedouin of the Naqab from their agricultural lands to small, enclosed areas where they can be controlled. By overcrowding these Palestinian citizens of Israel into small plots of poor quality land, the State is destroying the people’s historical livelihood and denying them their most basic human and citizen rights.
The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) denounces this action and the Prawer Plan of which it is a part. We affirm and respect the right of the Palestinian Bedouin community in the Naqab to cultivate and live on their own lands, free from the policies of population transfer and violence currently carried out by Israel. The HRA emphasizes the full ownership, by inheritance through generations of residents, of these Bedouin communities to their land in the Naqab.
In this regard, we reiterate the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD); put forth in its March 2012 Concluding observations on Israel, in particular Article 20, which states:
“The Committee recommends that the State party address satisfactorily the problems faced by Bedouin communities, in particular with regard to the loss of their land and access to new land. The Committee also recommends that the State party step up its efforts to ensure equal access to education, work, housing, and public health in all territories under the State party’s effective control. In this regard, the State party should withdraw the 2012 discriminatory proposed Law for the Regulation of the Bedouin Settlement in the Negev, which would legalize the ongoing policy of home demolitions and forced displacement of the indigenous Bedouin communities.”
Furthermore, the HRA calls on the UN, the EU, and all other relevant and observing bodies to take firm and immediate action to pressure the State to renounce these policies. Specifically, it is urgent that the government of Israel find a just and timely solution to these ongoing indignities and respects the rights of all citizens, regardless of ethnic, religious, or national background.
Photo: Homes of Israel’s indigenous Arab Bedouin population in the Naqab/Negev. Credit: MRG