“Bedouin Communities: steadfastness and struggle in defiance of displacement and ethnic cleansing”

PNN/Ramallah

For the purpose of expanding its settler-colonial enterprise and emptying Jerusalem of its indigenous population, the Israeli government has stepped up its systematic onslaught against Palestinian Bedouin communities.

This enterprise is labeled “E1” and targets especially occupied East Jerusalem. The construction of this area, which includes water, sewage, separated roads and Israeli police headquarters, started in 1999 and was built within the municipality boundaries of the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim.

For the Palestinians, the danger of the “E1” zone lies in the fact that it fragments the land of Palestine and blocks territorial contiguity between the north and south of  the occupied West Bank.

According to the master plan that was approved in 1994, around 5000 housing units, 10 hotels, industrial and commercial zones will be built in the “E1” zone which will entail the confiscation of 12.5 square kilometers from the land of Al-Tur, Al-Issawiya and Al-Eizariya (Bethany).

Two main Bedouin communities are the present target for the Israeli government: Jabal Al-Baba and Abu Nuwar.

In Focus: JABAL AL-BABA

Jabal Al-Baba was named after Pope Paul VI, whose 1964 pilgrimage to Jerusalem prompted the late King Hussein of Jordan to gift the Vatican a plot of land.

In three waves between 1997 and 2007,over 150 families were forcibly evicted and relocated to the Jabal Al-Baba site, close to the Abu Dis landfill and its many associated health risks.

Presently, approximately 56 families constituting more than 300 individuals, mostly children, are living in Jabal Al-Baba.

Like any other Bedouin community in occupied East Jerusalem, Jabal Al-Baba relies on animal herding and husbandry as a main source of income. However the IOF have confiscated large portions of the grazing land for the benefit of illegal Israeli settlements and related infrastructure.

Furthermore, the apartheid Wall renders access to the grazing land impossible, results in a sharp increase in the rate of unemployment among the Al-Baba population.

Reports from UNOCHA reveal that since 2014, IOF have carried out seven home demolition operations, displacing 90 residents.

“If the Israeli government does not want us to live here it must let us go back to our land and homes in the Naqab from where we were forcefully displaced in 1948,”said Atallah Mazara’a, a representative for the Al-Baba community.

The same reports note that the last demolition operation in Jabal Al-Baba took place on 21 January 2016 during which the IOF demolished six establishments, four homes and two water and sewage pipelines. As a result 16 people, including six children, were displaced and rendered homeless.

In Focus: ABU NUWAR COMMUNITY

The Abu Nuwar community is the largest Bedouin community in occupied East Jerusalem and it is systematically targeted by the IOF with the aim of forcibly transferring its population to urban areas. Approximately 113 families reside in Abu Nuwar.

The IOF target Abu Nuwar community with the aim of transferring its inhabitants to Khillet Al-Raheb area.

According to UNOCHA, recently, Israeli bulldozers have demolished five homes, five water and sewage pipelines, and one tractor, displacing 26 persons, including 18 children.

On 10 January 2016, the IOF confiscated 10 tents donated by the Palestinian Red Crescent and demolished three EU- funded residential structures four days later.

Repeated calls by international bodies for Israel to cease the displacement of Palestinians have done little in the past to stop ongoing demolitions or illegal settlement expansion onto Palestinian land.

The EU earlier this week condemned Israeli policy regarding demolition and illegal settlement expansion that the body said made the possibility for an independent Palestinian state impossible.