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Bedouin citizens of Israel fight plan for relocation in new Negev town

May 16, 2019 at 10:34 am

Israeli occupation forces storm the Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar in the West Bank on 14 September 2018 [İssam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli authorities have approved a new town for Bedouin citizens who are set to be relocated from their current communities, reported Haaretz.

The National Planning and Building Council gave the go ahead for the new town in the area of Avdat, which will have 500 housing units built on 1,500 dunams (371 acres) of land.

The plan will see Bedouin families residing in Ramat Tziporim, Wadi Aricha, and Nahal Hava moved to the Avdat area”, Haaretz reported, “where the majority of Bedouin population is concentrated”, adding that “several smaller Bedouin settlements will also be evacuated to the new community”.

However, the report continued, “the residents of Ramat Tziporim, where a new community was initially planned to be built, are opposing the plan and have announced they would fight it.”

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Ramat Tziporim resident Hilal Abu Jalidan told Haaretz: “We’ll take the matter to court if needed. They promised us to establish a community here, but then they decided something else. We are not against the establishment of the community in Avdat, but we don’t want to move there”.

Israeli authorities have long pursued a goal of concentrating the Bedouin Palestinian population in the Negev in a small number of government-approved towns, and have targeted so-called ‘unrecognised villages’ for home demolitions and other forms of harassment.

Shmulik David from the Shatil NGO told the paper “the residents demand that a community be legally established in Ramat Tziporim”, accusing authorities of discrimination.

“Four Jews are entitled to 300-dunam farms, and the Bedouins, whose ancestors are buried here, have no rights and must be crowded into the Avdat area,” he said.