Sunday, November 02, 2008

Israel's war on its own citizens

I have posted about the plight of Bedouins in Israel before. Briefly, Israeli Bedouins are citizens of that country, but without the right even to live in their own villages. Since it came into being, the land-hungry Israeli state has herded these people around and taken their best land, and this warfare against a minority continues today.

From time to time I'll be putting up "guest blogposts" on the continuing oppression of Bedouins in Israel. This one is from Josh Berer.


Dear all,

Thursday in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Khashm Zanna the home of Bassam abu Gwedar, a father of three young girls, and his wife, all citizens of the State of Israel, was demolished. The reason given by the Israeli authorities was that the structure was a new structure and had been built without a permit, which for all residents of the unrecognized villages is unattainable. The home had been built a year ago replacing the tin hut in which they had lived, and the demolition order was posted almost immediately. The family took the case to the local courts, which refused to offer any respite from their predicament, and supported the demolition order. The situation is that of a catch 22: there is no method of attaining a building permit, but without a building permit the home is illegal and must therefore be destroyed, so Bassam and his family were left homeless Thursday. The bulldozers arrived at nine o'clock in the morning accompanied by 150 soldiers and 20 members of the paramilitary Green Patrol.

Bassam's neighbors gathered in front of the home in non-violent protest of the order, but under threat of violence they retreated and the bulldozers crushed his home to rubble. It was completed at 10:40 AM, taking under two hours to leave a family of five without a home. Bassam and his family's sole crime were being members of an ethnic group in a state that is severely biased against him and those like him. Bassam's family watched the demolition with utter desperation and helplessness, confronted with a faceless force of destruction.

The season chosen for the demolition was not lost on the family. The recent rains and cold make their homelessness that much harder. "We have nowhere left." He told members of the RCUV Thursday.

Khashm Zanna is an unrecognized village of more than 2000 people living roughly 15 kilometers south of Beer Sheva in the Negev desert, and has been in the same location for more than 200 years. They have no access to electricity, water, sewage, paved roads, or medical services from the Israeli government. They are constantly under the threat of home demolition, as all houses in the village have been deemed illegal. This demolition is not an isolated incident, but the latest in a series of co-ordinated operations designed to make life in the villages as unbearable as possible, so as to force the residents to abandon their lands.

Also Thursday, the village of Tweil abu Jarwal was completely destroyed for close to the 20th time. The night prior to this demolition, six young men of the village were arrested and kept overnight in the police holding cells in Beer Sheva. They were arrested in the village on charges of trespassing on their own land, held overnight and then released on the sole condition that they refrain from returning to their village for two weeks. This village is deeply in need of assistance in the form of new tents, and if you or someone you know can contribute for new tents in the village, please donate through PayPal to, or send a check payable to the RCUV at

47 Ha-Atzmaut St
PO Box 10002,
Beer Sheva, 81405

Thank you all,
Joshua Berer,
International Communications Advocate
Regional Council of Unrecognized Bedouin Villages
+972 52 7500 159


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