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AP Screenshot: Bedouins fight Israeli order to demolish homes, Sept. 15, 2015.

[AP] West Bank Bedouin Fight Israeli Order to Demolish Homes

This report and associated video footage was originally filed by AP Television – September 15, 2015

Video Link: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/MEEX-West-Bank-Bedouin/820de64f26b2d47f4a70e3cb897387bf
*English translation of Arabic footage available in the audio transcript. 

Bedouin children have a kick about in Abu Nuwar. But these football games may soon be a thing of the past. Israel’s Civil Administration (ICA) has drafted a plan to demolish houses in the community, saying they have been illegally built. Residents say they already face problems as a result of nearby Israeli settlements.

“Ma’ale Adumim settlement is to our north and Kedar settlement is from the south and from the east is a bypass road that connects Ma’ale Adumim and Kedar,” says Younes Hamadeen, an Abu Nuwar community leader.

“This road forms a barrier to our sheep from crossing and grazing and our kids cross this road with great difficulty to get to school in Wadi Abu Hindi,” he says. Hamadeen was born and raised in this community. He points out the areas under threat.

“I have a sewing room here and the kindergarten where we were sitting are all under a demolition order but with God’s help none will be demolished,” he says. Activists say the Bedouins are being relocated to make way for Israeli settlements.

“Israel is basically displacing people in order to expand its settlements and it’s expanding its settlements in this region more than anywhere else in order to take the whole of Jerusalem,” says Angela Godfrey Goldstein, an Israeli peace activist. But the authorities reject those claims and say the plans have been drafted as a result of talks with Palestinian parties. A UN agency says the Bedouin people must either be allowed to return to original land in the Negev desert or be able to build in the areas they now live. Nader Dagher, a UNRWA public information officer, lists the demands his organisation is making on behalf of these people. “Freedom to build, to develop their places, build homes, build infrastructure, build public buildings and to participate in the planing in these areas instead of attempting to transfer them to other areas,” he says.

An Israeli NGO that provides planning assistance to Palestinian communities in the West Bank has come to the aid of the Bedouins. BIMKOM has dispatched teams to draw up a plan to present to the Israeli authorities which takes into consideration the needs of the community. “At this stage we are practically conducting a full survey of the Abu Nuwar community in order to study and produce a preliminary plan for the community that addresses two points,” says Amal Zoabi, a planner.

“First, to prove that it is possible that they can remain in this community (continue living in this location) and to prevent transfer, of course, and to live in a way that meets their lifestyle’s basic requirements,” she says. The Bedouin are concerned they will be moved to an area where they can not herd their animals. But Hamadeen is determined to stay put in Abu Nuwar. “We were born here, we said it clearly that we are not going to abandon this place even if they demolish our homes once or twice. We’re not a state, we’re a people,” he says. “We are aware this is a state of occupation that controls the entire world, they are not afraid of Abu Nuwar community. But our weapon is resilience,” Hamadeen adds.

Authorities have earmarked land next to the Palestinian town of Abu Dis for the Bedouin. The land has been bulldozed ready for the Bedouin for when their current homes are gone. But lawyers acting for the community say they have secured an appeal and an injunction that prevents the Israel Civil Administration from carrying out demolitions. The Israeli High Court has given the ICA until 27 October to answer the objections raised. “The international community shouldn’t just be making statements, they should actually be doing much more so that Israel understands it cannot get away with this for its own good,” says Goldstein. “I speak as an Israeli, this is not healthy for us. We’re becoming an incredibly inhuman society, arrogant, careless, lacking in all the basics of Judaism,” she continues.

In a statement, the ICA says: “The Civil Administration is promoting a plan for regularising the communities of the Palestinian Bedouin, many of whom live in illegally built housing. The plan has been drafted after discussions and dialogues with the Palestinian interlocutors. The plan allocates to the Bedouin land that includes essential infrastructures such as electricity, water and sewage systems. It was formulated following meetings with delegates of the Bedouin population and takes into consideration the desire to preserve the traditional Bedouin lifestyle.”

There are more than 11,000 outstanding demolition orders in the West Bank, according to official data obtained from the Israeli authorities by the UN. 570 orders are ‘ready for execution’.

For corresponding video footage and additional details, please visit: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/MEEX-West-Bank-Bedouin/820de64f26b2d47f4a70e3cb897387bf

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