Bedouin tents and wandering goats dot the barren hills on the drive from Jerusalem down to the Dead Sea, giving residents and visitors a glimpse of how the Holy Land must have looked in ancient times.
With their corrals, water cisterns and tractors the camps look more like rudimentary homesteads. But the Bedouin tradition is slowly dying out as Israel clears the camps to make way for expanding Jewish urban settlements.
The Bedouin say they are being forced to forgo many aspects of their traditional way of life which relies on land, livestock and tents. All have been targets of Israeli restrictions. “Our lifestyle relies on being able to move around, to live in dispersed tents on large plots of land and raise animals, which we love doing,” said Mohammad Korshan, a resident of al-Khan al-Ahmar of the Jahalin Bedouin tribe. “The Israeli authorities just don’t understand our lifestyle,” he added, sitting in his airy tent held up by wooden sticks, the rocky floor covered with a thick rug.
Israel says the camps are set up illegally without permits, and sometimes stand in the way of urban planning. In remoter parts of the occupied West Bank, the army evicts Bedouin it says are squatting inside live-firing ranges. Critics say these are just excuses for land grabs.
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