The Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages (RCUV) located in the Negev desert of Israel has been working for years to attain justice for the Arab Bedouin people, who live in the Negev and have done so for centuries. In 1948, many Bedouins fled Israel fearing for their lives, becoming refugees in Gaza and the West Bank. Those who remained have since been subject to apartheid subjugation by the Israeli government, which has been attempting to get them off their traditional lands and way of life and settled into what is nothing less than bantustans. Living in these bantustans, 95% of the Bedouins have become cheap labor inside of Israel.
The plight of the Israeli Bedouins sounds much like what happened in South Africa during the Afrikaaner Apartheid period, when isolating Blacks and turning them into cheap labor prevailed.
This latest episode was reported by Josh Berer of the RCUV:
Since our establishment in 1997, we have struggled for recognition of our villages and our existence from the State of Israel, a state that describes itself as an oasis of democracy and human rights in the Middle East. However, they deny us the most fundamental rights, and have seized ownership of our lands. We are deliberately excluded from the water, electrical, and road networks, as well as from committees dealing with the planning of the future of our villages. We cannot even vote in municipal elections, and as a result we are prevented from receiving adequate educational and health services as well.
Those who seek to divide us have failed in their attempt to separate us from the greater Palestinian people, of whom we are an integral part. They have tried to force us into a position of submission through the denial of basic services, by ignoring our presence and stating a goal of Judaizing the Negev. This policy is enacted through the concentration of the maximum number of Arabs on the minimum possible amount of land, and the minimum number of Jews on the maximum possible amount of land. Racist laws are enacted to this very day, used to justify this legal policy, the means and ends of which is the expulsion of an indigenous population from what we consider our land.
At five o'clock this morning more than 200 police and green patrol descended upon the Bedouin encampment of Abdallah al-Atrash, in the area of Rahat. Over the following 6 hours, they proceeded to demolish the entire village and forcibly expel all 20 families living there. Not a single structure was left standing, and all men, women, and children were pushed off their land.
The court case had been in the courts since 2000, but 4 days ago the demolition and evacuation order was served in the village. The government had ordered them to vacate the land immediately, but provided no alternative location to go to. No solution was given, nor were any suggestions made; they were simply told 'go.'
They had been living in the same location for close to 20 years, after having been expelled from their previous homes farther to the west. The people belong to the Atrash tribe, and are likely to go live with relatives near Hura, in an unrecognized village of the Atrash. Some will stay on this land, and told members of the RCUV they plan to sleep amongst the rubble of their demolished homes tonight, until new tents can be erected on the land.
This expulsion comes days after the publication of the Goldberg Commission's recommendations, which advocated recognition for Bedouin villages to the east of Route 40. Abdallah al-Atrash lies to the west.
Suppose a hundred years ago we had supported legislation that condoned the segregation of Black citizens in some southern states. Well it seems that our Supreme Court upheld laws that did just that? What would not be heard of since the Warren Court in 1964 is happening today in the Negev desert of Israel.