Bedouin face eviction as Israel builds new towns
Bedouin face eviction as Israel builds new towns
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SCRIPT For half a century Bedouins have tended sheep in these Biblical lands. In the northern Negev, Umm al-Heiran village is home to some 150 families. They live in small concrete buildings and rely on solar panels for electricity. And now, the entire village may have to move. SOUNDBITE 1 - Abdel Rahman Abu al-Qiyaan (man), resident of Umm al-Heiran, (Arabic 14 sec) “I’ve lived here for around fifty years. I’ve given my best to this region. This is my life. I can’t live in any other place.” Israel’s cabinet has approved two new Jewish communities in the Negev. To make way for them, the government plans to move the Bedouins to the nearby village of Hura, where some 300 families already live. Locals have taken the government to court. SOUNDBITE 1 - Suhad Bishara (woman), lawyer for the Arab-Israeli rights group Adalah, (Arabic 12 sec): "Until now, the court has ruled that the people of Umm al-Heiran have not infringed on anyone's land. They’ve been there since 1956 on the basis of a request from an Israeli institution." Ironically it was the Israeli state that brought the Abu al-Qiyyan tribe here. They were displaced when the Jewish state was created in 1948. Since then the community has grown to 1000-strong. But Israeli officials now say the homes were built without a permit and are therefore illegal. SOUNDBITE 3 - Ofir Gendelman (man), Israel Prime Minister Spokesman for Arab Media, (Arabic 18 sec): "There is no citizen in Israel who can build a house without a permit, in violation of the law. We’re a state of institutions and the rule of law. We say to the Bedouins: we are with you in the provision of basic services, we are with you to resolve the land issue, but building must be done legally." For now, the Supreme Court has frozen demolition orders. Lawyers are preparing more evidence for the courts. If the court rules against the village, these Israeli families are already waiting in the wings. Their transit village is just ten minutes away from Umm Al-Heiran. SHOTLIST UMM AL-HEIRAN, ISRAEL. NOVEMBER 27, 2013. SOURCE: AFPTV -GV of Umm al-Heiran -Shot of a child herding sheep -GV of houses in Umm al-Heiran -VAR of children in the village standing in front of solar panels SOUNDBITE 1 JERUSALEM. NOVEMBER 20, 2013. SOURCE: AFPTV -Shot of Israeli flags outside the High court in Jerusalem -VAR of villagers at the court -SOUNDBITE 2 UMM AL-HEIRAN, ISRAEL. NOVEMBER 27, 2013. SOURCE: AFPTV -VAR of children walking home from school -VAR of a family preparing and eating a meal JERUSALEM. NOVEMBER 20, 2013. SOURCE: AFPTV -SOUNDBITE 3 -VAR inside Jerualem High court HIRAN TEMPORARY CAMP, ISRAEL. NOVEMBER 27, 2013. SOURCE: AFPTV -VAR of Israeli families in the transit camp outside Umm al-Heiran /// --------------------------------------- AFP TEXT STORY: Bedouin face eviction as Israel builds new towns Umm al-Heiran (Palestinian Territories) - 12 December 2013 19:50 - AFP (Majeda EL-BATSH) / FOCUS Some 50 years after Israeli authorities gave them the land, the Bedouin of Umm al-Heiran village face eviction to make way for two modern towns. Located in the Negev desert, the village is home to some 150 Arab Bedouin families -- 1,000 inhabitants -- who live in small, concrete buildings, relying on solar panels for electricity and raising livestock. But more than half a century of calling Umm al-Heiran home now looks set to end. On November 10, the Israeli cabinet approved the establishment of two new communities in the Negev -- Kesif and Hiran -- that will almost exclusively cater to Jews. In order to make way for the two new towns, the Bedouin village, which is currently unrecognised by the authorities, must first be removed. "In order to build Hiran, (Israel) will accelerate the demolition of the unrecognised village of Umm al-Heiran in the Negev and evict its residents," said Suhad Bishara, a lawyer for the Arab-Israeli rights group Adalah. The village is on some 7,000 dunams (70 hectares) of land an Israeli military governor gave to the Bedouin after the tribe of Abu al-Qiyaan was displaced in the 1950s. Israeli plans to remove the village were first raised 10 years ago, and since then, the residents have been fighting a long legal battle with Adalah's help. The Supreme Court has for now frozen demolition orders on Umm al-Heiran's structures pending the filing by December 15 of additional documents by Adalah. But should the court rule against them, their case will be lost. "I was born here, it's my home and it's all I know," said Abdel Rahman Abu al-Qiyaan, a 49-year-old father of more than a dozen children. "We can't fight the state if it decides to evict us, but we just have to wait and see what happens," he told AFP. "We built this village and developed its agriculture. Where will our children go?" The villagers say they have no problem with Jewish Israelis moving into the area -- as long as they themselves are not forced to leave. "This is a racist decision -- why can Jews live here but not me?" Abu al-Qiyaan asked. The government says Umm al-Heiran's residents are to be moved to the nearby Bedouin village of Hura, which is already home to some 300 families. Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Israel would provide "basic services" to Umm al-Heiran's residents, but that illegal construction would not be tolerated. "There is no citizen in Israel who can build a house without a permit," Gendelman told AFP. "We say to the Bedouins: we are with you in the provision of basic services, we are with you to resolve the land issue, but building must be done legally." 'The land they gave us' is home Ghiyahib Abu al-Qiyaan, 73, remembers the day when Israeli forces moved the family onto the land which would become Umm al-Heiran in 1956, eight years after the creation of the Jewish state. "I was about 16 years old. Israeli patrols came and evicted us from our homes (in nearby Zubala) to make way for a kibbutz, and put us here without shelter, in the desert," she said. "But we built and we've made it our home with the land they gave us." Bishara said that while the military's actions were documented at the time, they were never enshrined in an official agreement. Israel's legal position "is simply one of 'we gave them the land, and we can take it away'," she said. Israel is trying to regulate the ownership of land inhabited by Bedouins in the Negev, in many instances since before the foundation of the state in 1948. On Thursday, an official announced that the government would drop another plan related to Negev Bedouins, the so-called Prawer Plan, that would have seen some 40 unrecognised Bedouin villages in the same area demolished and the evacuation of between 30,000 and 40,000 people. Around 260,000 Bedouin live in Israel, more than half of them in unrecognised villages without utilities. Many live in extreme poverty. mab-jad/hmw/jk/srm
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