M’riha, a Bedouin community west of Jenin, came under attack on Thursday 15th February by Occupation Forces who destroyed four sheep farms under the pretext of the community lacking necessary “building permits”. Occupation Soldiers, flanked by several bulldozers, entered the village at 9.30 am. The area was closed off and the Bedouin community was prevented from rescuing the fodder, equipment and the water containers from which the sheep drink from the buildings.
The owners of these farms are Qa’ed Hamdouni, Nawaf Mustafa Hamfouni, Tawfiq Hamdouni and Mustafa Saleh. All of them take their main source of livelihood from these farms, and engage in agricultural production that is vital to the Bedouin community as a whole in that area. As such the people from M’riha resisted this latest assault collectively.
The community gathered around the area and started to resist the attack with their bare hands. Clashes ensued and the people broke through into the area under demolition. The destruction was temporarily brought to a halt as Palestinian Bedouins stood in front of the bulldozers. Occupation Forces, with their guns and military might, had to beat people back so bulldozers could resume the demolition.
The pretense for the demolition on Palestinian infrastructure – as in the vast majority of cases – was the lack of necessary “building permits”. Farmers and workers from M’riha saw the action as part of the wider Israeli Occupation plan to transfer the people and to eventually isolate and confiscate their land. One goal in issuing such demolition orders is often the clearing of the land for confiscation.
Stripping the Bedouins of their land is an attack on the century’s strong ties held by such communities with their traditional livelihoods. It results in the creation of more refugees and is part of the systematic and coordinated policy of removing Palestinians from their lands.
M’riha is composed of 45 Bedouin families who have already suffered expulsion and dispossession. They are refugees, expelled from the lands which were cleansed of Palestinians in 1948. They settled immediately behind the Green line in Jenin district and re-established their community. In 2002, with the construction of the Apartheid Wall, the Occupation forced them to leave a second time. With the latest attack, this Bedouin community is now subjected to devastating measures which threaten their means of livelihood for a third time.