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Bedouins outside Jerusalem face violence and threats of expulsion

1st July 2013 | International Solidarity Movement, Ramallah Team | ‘Anata, Jerusalem

The Bedouin community of ‘Anata suffers daily from the consequences of living just underneath the Apartheid Wall of East Jerusalem; the community is considered unwanted by the Israelis, and is therefore a victim of attacks and harassment. In addition, their unique location between two major settlements, Almon and Ma’ale Adumim and the Palestinian village of ‘Anata means that the Bedouin people living there are caught in the middle of the weekly clashes between Palestinian protesters and the Israeli occupation forces.

Homes of the Bedouin community of 'Anata

Homes of the Bedouin community of ‘Anata (Photo by ISM)

Yesterday, Sunday 30th June, four internationals guided by a journalist visited the Bedouin community in ‘Anata, located just 4 kilometers northeast of Jerusalem. We saw the poor living conditions of the villagers, who live in shacks or tents. Many of them suffer from asthma, and aren’t allowed access to the hospitals of Jerusalem – instead, they have to drive all the way around the illegal settlements to Ramallah. They told us about the insecurity of living close to the wall, which became apparent by the sight of Israeli rubber bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters lying everywhere in the village. These violations are especially critical because three quarters of the Bedouin villagers are children, who don’t have places to hide, because of the fragile housing conditions. In addition, the animals held by the villagers are suffering from the same conditions as a result of the numerous tear gas attacks. The Israeli occupation forces often enter the village to arrest Bedouins for apparently made up accusations. For example, they have accused the villagers of stealing horses, even though it was obvious that no one in the village held horses. The Bedouin parents expressed concerns about their children getting accused for the actions of the Palestinian shabab (protesting youth).

Especially on Fridays, violent clashes between the Palestinian shabab and the Israeli forces take place in the Bedouin villages, even though the villagers explicitly has declared that they don’t want to take part. Therefore, the items thrown by both parties often hit the villagers: stones from the shabab and tear gas, rubber bullets, etc from the Israeli army.

Apartheid Wall visible behind the community of 'Anata

Apartheid Wall visible behind the community of ‘Anata (Photo by ISM)

The Israeli intimidation attacks seek to evict the Bedouins completely from their land and serve the higher purpose of creating a physical link between the illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim and the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem. This is known as the ‘E1 Plan’, and the Bedouins are, from an inhumane Israeli perspective, currently in the way of letting this happen.  The Israelis are currently working on the so-called Nuweimeh Plan, which seeks to solve the ‘Bedouin problem’ by relocating the approximately 2300 Bedouins of the E1-zone to a town named Nuweimeh near Jericho. The lands of Nuweimeh, however is unsuitable for the animals to graze, and in addition there is no job opportunities, which is why the Bedouins who already are settled there live almost solely on UN food parcels.

The Bedouin community has therefore received demolition orders and orders to halt construction from the Jerusalem Governorate, even though they pay the Palestinian National Authority NIS 1000 a year to live there. The Israeli attempt to forcefully evict the Bedouins is violating international humanitarian law. In spite of the threats by the Israelis, the Bedouin community refuses to move from their lands.