February 28, 2007

Ethnically cleansing the West Bank Bedouin

Here's a report in today's Guardian on the ethnic cleansing of Bedouin from their homes in the West Bank:
For the 3,000 Bedouin living here, most from the Jahalin tribe, this presents an imminent crisis. "They came and destroyed my house to protect their wall," said Mr Hassan, 62. "They really don't have enough land already that they had to come and destroy my house? We've lost everything."

Earlier this month the Israeli military destroyed seven huts and tents belonging to Bedouin living near a settlement in Hebron, in the southern West Bank. Another group of Bedouin living further east in the Jordan Valley have been given two months to leave their homes near an Israeli military base and a Jewish settlement.

In each case the Israeli authorities argue the homes have been built without permits, but Palestinians say they are notoriously hard to obtain.

Bedouin culture has been eroded as a result. Refugees from the Negev desert in Israel who crossed after 1948, their grazing land has been squeezed by the growth of Palestinian towns, the rapid emergence of large Jewish settlements and lately the vast concrete and steel barrier. Most Bedouin live on land that under the Oslo accords was supposed to be unpopulated farmland where Israel has civilian and military control. Today most live in primitive shacks, many no longer keep animal herds and they have little in the way of formal land ownership documents. They have become one of the most vulnerable Palestinian communities......

Other Bedouin have also changed and work as construction labourers, many even employed in Ma'ale Adumim, building the settlement that has taken the land they once lived on.
Still, at least they're making a living.

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