Tuesday, November 24, 2020

West Bank Palestinians protest in solidarity with Umm al-Hiran

By Carla Mari - January 20, 2017
Section: [Main News] [Features]
Tags: [demolition] [Umm il Heiran]

Ramallah – A group of mostly young protesters gathered in Ramallah's main square on Wednesday evening in solidarity with their Palestinian counterparts on the other side of the Green Line.
During the peaceful protest, attended by around 70 people, Palestinians held banners that read 'history is a cycle and it will repeat itself’, and 'a fire is burning underneath the ashes’ to show their solidarity with residents of Umm al-Hiran, a Bedouin town in the Naqab (Negev) desert whose residents face displacement to make space for a Jewish town. The protesters then marched through Ramallah's city centre.
The spontaneous demonstration, organised on social media only a few hours before, was triggered by the demolition raid that took place in Attir Umm Al-Hiran earlier that day. On Wednesday morning at around 5am, Israeli forces stormed the village to demolish 12 houses. Tension soon erupted in clashes as activists and residents attempted to defend the village. Several activists were injured alongside Knesset member Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint List - a coalition of mainly Arab parties and the third-largest force in the Israeli Knesset.
Tension rose when police shot dead 47-year-old Yacoub Moussa Abu al-Qiyan, a local teacher. While police initially claimed the man had intentionally driven his car into a group of soldiers, activists who were at the scene said he lost control of his vehicle after police opened fire on it. A video later leaked to the media appears to confirm this version. Policeman Eraz Levi was killed in the incident. Rights group Adalah has demanded a criminal investigation, alleging police violated open-fire regulations.
Umm al-Hiran's residents have been living there since 1956, following their displacement from Khyrbet Zubaleh in the Yattir forest area, where they had been living for centuries. They were repeatedly ordered to move from one place to another, until they settled in Wadi Attir, where they built the village of Attir Umm Al-Hiran.
Israel declared the area as State Land in 1970 and the village has since been classified as 'unrecognised’. According to Adalah, the State issued demolition orders for the entire village in 2003, and later ordered residents to evacuate claiming they were "trespassing on state land".
Respectively in September 2014 and May 2015, the Court rejected the case of the village asking to reconsider the orders and later rejected their motion to have a second hearing. Meanwhile, in 2012 the National Planning Building Council approved the master Plan for the construction of Hiran, a 2,400-unit compound destined to a Jewish community.
The first destruction has taken place in November, as you may know, but the case has been open for more than a decade now,” said the Adalah’s International Media Coordinator, Mati Milstein. “The area is a big one and the demolition they carried out yesterday, is just a small part of it. Section after section they will destroy all the village, but we cannot know when this will happen,” he added.
What Israel does in the Naqab does not differ from what it does in the West Bank,” Suheila, one of the young demonstrators in Ramallah who preferred not to use her real name, told the Palestine Monitor. “The targets are always Palestinians. We are targeted on racial basis,” she added.
Whether in East Jerusalem or in the Naqab Desert, Israel implements one policy targeting one people: a discriminatory planning system against Palestinians regardless of their location and status to achieve its overarching goal of displacing Palestinians and dispossessing them of their land,” the Palestinian NGO al-Haq wrote in a statement about the demolitions.
We are here to show our solidarity with the Palestinians in the 1948 lands because what happens there is the same that happens here. The Zionist State targets Palestinians with the same excuses and legal tricks such as lack of building permit or non-recognition of land ownership. Not only we do face demolitions the same way, we are also slaughtered the same way,” Saed, another of the protesters, said. “Just yesterday, a kid was killed in Tulkarem, accused of having a knife,” he added.
Numerous human rights organisations have brought attention to the issue of the displacement of the Bedouin community within Israel. Earlier this year, a lot of attention was brought on the destruction of Al-Arakib. The village, located five miles north of Beersheba, has been demolished more than 100 times.
Meanwhile, more demolitions took place last week in Qalansawe, a Palestinian-Arab village in northern Israel. In the West Bank, the first week of 2017 saw three times as many demolitions in Area C (under full Israeli control) as the weekly average for 2016, when 1,593 Palestinians were displaced, the highest number since OCHA (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) records began in 2009.
We are one people. I have relatives living in Israel and family living in Gaza,” Saed said. “Therefore, it is fundamental to go in the street. We belong to the same people.”

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