This Saturday, November 30, Palestinian activists will rally against plans for the ethnic cleansing of the Naqab/Negev in an internationally-observed ‘Day of Rage’. The third such day in a year, there are planned demonstrations across Palestine as well as in cities around the world, in a show of global solidarity against Israel’s now infamous Prawer Plan.
November 30’s Day of Rage comes hot on the heels of an escalation in protests by Palestinians on the ground, with a strike last Sunday across the south to protest a visit by Members of Knesset involved in the implementation of the Prawer Plan. Security forces clashed with demonstrators, leaving four injured and two detained, including a human rights observer.
During the visit Sunday, Interior Committee head MK Miri Regev, who believes that “the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish People”, said “We will not allow anyone to threaten the state”. Indeed, leaders of Bedouin resistance to Israel’s Judaisation plans have been targeted by the security services, such as Al-Araqib village’s Sheikh Sayah al-Touri, arrested in August and still detained after rejecting bail conditions that would keep him 2km from his home.
Other displays of dissent continue, such as a strike by Palestinian students in Israeli universities, and a demonstration at Hebrew University last week. Youth organisations have reportedly gathered more than 10,000 signatures from villages in the Negev in opposition to the Prawer Plan, part of what has been described as a “new wave of Palestinian youth activism” that has emerged in response to the proposed expulsions.
The Israeli government’s policies in the Negev constitute a continuation of the Nakba and a microcosm of the state’s settler colonial past & present. As the homes of non-Jews are demolished, another government committee unveils plans to encourage new Jewish arrivals in the country to “settle” in the Negev.
It is the Negev where the authorities advance plans whose goal is to “grab” land and “prevent further Bedouin incursion”, and where bodies like the Jewish National Fund shamelessly advance their ‘demographic’ strategies. Where the President of Israel Shimon Peres says that steps must be taken to “relieve” the threat posed by the number of non-Jewish citizens.
As the Prawer Plan continues to make its way through the Knesset, for some Bedouin communities their fate may be decided sooner. Umm el-Hiran faces total destruction in order to make way for the proposed new Jewish community Hiran, or, as one resident put it: “They want to expel us because we are Bedouin and not Jews.” It is the same story from the Negev to the West Bank:
State agencies and Jewish settlement organizations working together to evict and destroy entire villages via discriminatory planning policies, for the sake of ensuring contiguous Jewish settlement.
The Israeli government is worried about the “international condemnation” that Prawer is attracting, and for good reason: aside from the humanitarian impact, the ethnic cleansing of the Negev exemplifies the Palestinian experience under Israeli rule, from 1948 to 2013, and more people are taking notice.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.