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Protest turns violent
Photo: Herzel Yosef
Protesters in Beersheba
Photo: Herzel Yosef
Beersheba rally
Photo: Herzel Yosef
2 police officers hurt, 15 protesters detained in Bedouin rally
Bedouin settlements regularization plan sparks violent protest in Beersheba. Several policemen, protesters injured, 15 activists detained. Former MK Taleb el-Sana claims bill is 'crime against humanity, will lead to intifada'
Banks, local authorities and most businesses in the Arab sector went on strike in protest of the Prawer Bill, which aims to evict illegal Bedouin communities in the Negev. Hundreds rallied in Beersheba on Monday as part of the protest, and chanted slogans against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 

Several protesters were injured in clashes with local police, 14 were detained and two police officers were injured as well. One protester was arrested after threatening a police officer he would "take care of him and his family."

 

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Police defined the protest as illegal, even though it was approved by the Negev District Police Chief. Police claimed that the conditions under which the demonstration was permitted were violated. A central Beersheba road was blocked for an hour causing long traffic jams in the city.

Bedouin rally in Beersheba

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עצורים בהפגנה (צילום: הרצל יוסף) 

Detainees in Beersheba rally (Photo: Herzel Yosef)


אחד השוטרים שנפצעו (צילום: באדיבות משטרת מחוז דרום)

Policeman injured by protesters (Photo: Courtesy of South District Police)

 

Police forces informed the protesters that the demonstration was illegal and protesters must be dispersed and evacuated from the road, causing some to begin using violence towards the policemen.

 

With the help of horsemen and Central Control Unit fighters, police dispersed the demonstration and cleared the road. Negev District Police Chief Peretz Amar explained: "The police respect the will of the Bedouin people to express their protest, but it will only be allowed within the constraints of the law. Any attempt by extremists to break the law, act with violence, block traffic and harm public servants and property will be dealt with immediate, determined and uncompromising law enforcement measures."

 


(צילום: הרצל יוסף)

(Photo: Herzel Yosef)


(צילום: הרצל יוסף)

(Photo: Herzel Yosef)


מפגינים בבאר שבע (צילום: הרצל יוסף)

(Photo: Herzel Yosef)

 

The strike was declared by the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, in which all businesses and public services were closed Monday. Fifteen protests are expected throughout Monday in different locations in northern Israel.

 

Protester Yusuf Al-Atawneh said: "The police are acting with brutality. They are trying to scare the youth, but we have the legitimate right to express protest and object the plan. We will carry on with our fight despite the brutality."

 

Fellow protester Ibrahim Abu Bader added: "The police are baiting people and trying to scare them from exercising their right, but nothing will stop us from objecting to this plan. The police exercised too much force in this case."

 

Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi responded to the events: "The government is pushing the Arab minority to a corner of confrontation instead of listening to their needs and equalizing the living conditions. We will keep fighting to cancel the Prawer Bill. Only in Israel there is a different law for the Arabs in the Negev. It is not a regularization plan, but an exclusion plan."

 

The bill addresses the legal aspects of the issue of Bedouin settlements in the Negev, including the regularization of the land claims in the Negev. The State's position is that the existing law does not allow approving such claims, but due to the special social and economic conditions in the Negev, it is proposed to establish special arrangements to solve the issue. The arrangements include compensation in the form of money or land.

 

However the strikers and demonstrators are protesting against the plan, which according to them will rob the Bedouins of 800,000 hectares of land. "The land of the Negev belongs to those who reside in it, not to Bibi," Beersheba protesters chanted.


(צילום: הרצל יוסף)

(Photo: Herzel Yosef)


(צילום: הרצל יוסף)

(Photo: Herzel Yosef)


עצורים בבאר שבע (צילום: הרצל יוסף)

(Photo: Herzel Yosef)

 

Some criticized the Bedouin public for not fully joining the protest. A public figure told Ynet that many businesses in Arab villages Sakhnin and Kfar Manda did not take part in the strike. "It shows that the strike failed, there is no faith in the follow-up committee's steps. Today some protest, but tomorrow everyone will forget everything."

 

Ibrahim Hasnat from Rahat is confident that "the protests will help. There's complete harmony between the Arab Palestinians in Israel and us. The protest should be a warning to decision makers in Israel. The prime minister should intervene. The State is turning closer to right-winged extremism, and its leaders should aid and prove us otherwise."

 

Former MK Taleb el-Sana said: "The Prawer Bill will lead to an intifada in the Negev. I warn the government from promoting apartheid legislation against Arabs. The government's policy will push the Arab public to adopt unlawful means of struggle in order to combat the perpetuation of marginality and inferiority of the Arab public."

 

El-Sana further added: "The Prawer Bill is the most dangerous plan against the Arab public since 1948. Its true meaning is a transfer of tens of thousands of Bedouins, expropriation of their land and large scale ethnic cleansing, which constitutes a violation of all international accords, and in practice this plan is a crime against humanity."

 

Ilana Curiel contributed to this report.

 

 

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