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Arab Israelis protest against plan to evacuate Bedouins

August 01, 2013|By Maher Abukhater
  • A protester is struck as he confronts Israeli police during a demonstration against government plans to resettle Bedouins.
A protester is struck as he confronts Israeli police during a demonstration… (Jack Guez / AFP-Getty Images )

RAMALLAH, West Bank – Hundreds of Arab Israelis demonstrated Thursday against a government plan aimed at relocating tens of thousands of Bedouins from their traditional land in the Negev desert to cities and urban communities.

Calling it a “Day of Rage,” protesters gathered in Araqeeb, a Bedouin village that has been demolished by Israeli security forces and then rebuilt by residents dozens of times, and in Wadi Ara, where organizers waved Palestinian flags and attempted to block the road.

Police say protesters in Wadi Ara threw stones and firecrackers, leading security forces to respond with riot gear and tear gas. A dozen people were arrested, according to Arab media reports.

The controversial relocation plan, which passed its first hurdle in Israel’s parliament in June, faces strong opposition from Bedouin leaders, who say it would effectively expropriate 200,000 acres of Arab land and forcibly relocate more than 40,000 Bedouins.

Israel does not recognize dozens of Bedouin villages and refuses to supply them with basic infrastructure such as water, electricity, schools or clinics in hope they would eventually leave them and move to cities.

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Abukhater is a special correspondent.

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