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Alex Kane: Thousands Across Palestine Protest Against Efforts to Uproot Bedouin

Protesters against the Prawer Plan (Photo: Allison Deger/Mondoweiss)

Protesters against the Prawer Plan (Photo: Allison Deger/Mondoweiss)

Protests erupted across the Palestinian territories today as a show of force against the Prawer Plan, the Israeli government’s initiative to uproot tens of thousands of Bedouin Arabs, demolish their villages and build new Jewish towns on top of their ruins.

Demonstrations that were part of the planned “Day of Rage” occurred within Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem, other Arab countries and in Europe.  Israeli soldiers and police clashed with protesters and arrested at least 60 people, according to Abir Kopty, a Palestinian activist involved in organizing Prawer Plan protests.

“Activism for Naqab [has] managed to unify Palestinians and generate solidarity in the world beyond divisions and separation and beyond political parties and faction,” Kopty wrote in an e-mail.

Activestills

Police raided Hura, arresting at least six youth (Photo: Activestills)

One of the biggest protests was in the village of Hura, a Bedouin area in the Negev desert, where many Bedouin villages are located.  About 1,000 activists reportedly demonstrated there alongside Palestinian Members of Knesset, and were met with police officers who fired tear gas and “skunk water” as protesters threw stones. At least ten were arrested in Hura.

Hura Junction: Police car in flames, clashes continues, reports on police using rubber coated bullets (Photo: Activestills)

Hura Junction: Police car in flames, clashes continues, reports on police using rubber coated bullets (Photo: Activestills)

Police push back activists towards Hura. Photo: Activestills.org.

Police push back activists towards Hura. Photo: Activestills.org.

A young boy was also arrested:

Another large protest occurred in Haifa, where 1,000 people reportedly gathered, according to the Activestills Twitter account.

Ma’an News reports that a small protest took place in the Gaza Strip:

Dozens of Palestinian youth demonstrated in Gaza City Saturday in protest of Israel’s so-called Prawer Plan to displace Bedouin residents of Negev…

The rally was organized by Gaza Strip’s Intifada Youth Coalition in conjunction with an international “day of rage” against the Prawer Plan.

“We are sending a message to our people in the Negev, asserting that they are a part and parcel of us, despite the occupation’s plans to displace them and exile them from Palestine,” coalition spokeswoman Shurouq Mahmoud said in a statement.

Palestinians from Ramallah demonstrated and walked towards the settlement of Beit El, where settler security officers reportedly fired live ammunition in the air.  Palestinian activist Diana Alzeer posted a link to this video, which she says is from the protest outside Beit El, where 3 demonstrators from the Jalazoun refugee camp were reportedly arrested.

 

Demonstrations also occurred in Kuwait, Belgium, Rome, Berlin, and England, where 50 prominent public figures signed a letter against the Prawer Plan.

In the days leading up to the “Day of Rage,” Israeli authorites took preemptive measures against activists, including summoning Bedouin organizers to police stations and pressuring bus companies not to transport activists. +972 Magazine’s Haggai Matar reported yesterday on this:

Bedouin activists in the Negev were urgently summoned local police stations on Thursday, where they were warned that they must be granted a permit to hold the third “Day of Rage” against the Prawer Plan, scheduled to take place in the Negev/Naqab on Saturday. However, under the law, demonstrations of this sort do not require such permits. Furthermore, the bus companies hired for the purpose of transporting demonstrators from all over the country received similar phone calls from police and were told that anyone assisting the “illegal demonstration” in any way would be considered an accomplice to the offense. Activists are currently trying to work out a solution out with the police, but are warning against the dangerous path the police are taking by repressing voices of dissent.

The “Prawer Plan” calls for the demolition of 35 unrecognized Bedouin villages, and the forced removal of residents into seven government-approved towns and ten recognized villages.  Jewish towns are set to be built on top of the demolished Bedouin areas.

A previous day of demonstrations was held in July.  Human rights groups harshly criticized the Israeli police for cracking down violently on demonstrators.

This article has been updated to change the number of arrestees, which went from 20 at first publication to 60

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