Bedouins are protesting a tree-planting project that they consider as an effort to expel them from their land
A controversial tree planting initiative by Israel’s government in the Negev Desert sparked protests by the Bedouin community, with Saturday marking day three of clashes between demonstrators and authorities.
So far, 13 protestors were arrested and three lightly injured, according to Israel’s police.
Demonstrators threw stones at police, who responded with anti-riot rubber bullets, shock grenades, and a water cannon.
The Bedouins - nomadic Arabs who have historically inhabited the Negev Desert - are protesting a tree-planting project by the Jewish National Fund, calling it an effort to expel them from the region.
Israel’s Islamist Ra’am party vowed to boycott plenum votes as long as the tree planting continued.
Khalil Alamour, board member of the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality told i24NEWS that the Bedouin people only want to be “equal citizens in this state.”
“They want equal rights, to keep their lands, and to be recognized.”
“You can see the brutal force that the government and the police use against the Bedouin civilians. Peaceful people with no arms came here to protest against the policy of confiscating and foresting their land,” Alamour said.
He mentioned that the tree-planting project was done without the consensus of nor negotiations with the Bedouin community.
“That’s the main thing that really angers the Bedouin community.”
“The root of the whole issue is the unrecognition and home demolitions,” Alamour told i24NEWS.
“During the last 5 years, the government demolished about 10,000 houses. Native people lose their houses every day. In a democratic state, it's unbelievable.”