Category: Palestine briefing

Barghouthi prepares for hunger strike over prison conditions

Israel’s brutal treatment of its 6,000 Palestinian conflict prisoners – largely ignored by the media – will be forced into the headlines by Marwan Barghouthi’s threat to go on hunger strike on Easter Monday if the prisoners’ demands are not met.

Marwan Barghouthi (right) was the general secretary of Fatah during the second intifada when he was abducted from the streets of Ramallah obarghouthin April 15 2002 by Israeli secret servicemen and sentenced to life imprisonment by an Israeli court.

He remains the most popular politician in Palestine according to the opinion polls despite spending the last 15 years in jail.

He has been wary of using the weapon of hunger strikes in the past, but now feels the deterioration in the way Palestinian prisoners are treated leaves no option.

The prisoners’ first demand is the reinstatement of fortnightly visits from their families after they were reduced to just once a month.

Israeli prisons fail to provide adequate food and shelter for Palestinian prisoners forcing them to rely on food and clothing brought by relatives. As the Jerusalem-based civil rights organisation Addameer says: “The military prison authority provides detainees with basic food rations. The provided rations do not meet necessary daily requirements, both in terms of quality and nutritional value.”

Prisoners also want an end to solitary confinement and ‘administrative detention’ – effectively internment without charge or trial, plus a resumption of the Hebrew Open University program allowing Palestinian prisoners to access education and to take school exams while in prison.

Medical issues are also central to their demands. They call for the closure of Israel’s Ramla prison hospital where many Palestinians are treated, due to its “inadequacy in providing medical care,” and quick and urgent surgery when needed.

Barghouthi believes the Israeli government is using the distractions of Trump, Syria and the Fatah-Hamas conflict to engage in a one-sided war against Palestinian prisoners.  Despite attempts to dissuade him, Barghouthi, who is 57, believes he has a responsibility to resist repressive measures against those who have no protection. Hundreds of prisoners will join the hunger strike alongside him.

According to the latest figures from the Israeli Prison Service, there were 5,988 Palestinian conflict prisoners in Israeli jails in August 2016, including 644 jailed without charge, 335 under 18, 57 women and two under the age of 14.  Some have been in prison more than 30 years.


Read Foreign Office questions

Foreign Office questions, House of Commons, March 28 2017

Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab) What representations he has made to the Israeli Government on that country’s ban on visitors who have advocated boycotts of Israeli settlement goods.

Secretary of State Boris Johnson: The British deputy ambassador met Israel’s Europe director on 13 March to discuss the new immigration rules, and we continue to push for clarification from Israel on the impact on UK nationals. We have updated our travel advice for Israel.

Andy Slaughter: UK citizens such as Hugh Lanning, the chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, have already been refused entry because of this ban, which has been widely condemned, including within Israel itself. The advice on the Foreign Office’s website says that people should contact the Israeli embassy. Should not the Foreign Secretary be contacting the Israeli embassy to say that people should not be restricted from travel to Israel and Palestine simply because they wish to enforce international law due to the ban on goods from settlements?

Boris Johnson: We have of course offered to provide consular assistance to Mr Lanning. He did not in fact request our support, nor did he seem to need it. Israel’s immigration policy is a matter for Israel. We firmly oppose boycotts—the boycott, divestment and sanctions approach—against Israel, as I am sure that he does too, although clearly it is a two-way street.

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): The Foreign Secretary says that he is seeking clarification from the Government of Israel. What questions is he actually asking them? In particular, has he asked what kind of activity would lead to someone being denied entry, particularly given that the Foreign Office’s own website discourages financial and commercial dealings with settlements? Is he saying that someone who advocates that is likely to be denied entry to Israel? Has he asked that question?

Boris Johnson: We are of course seeking clarity about exactly how the law would be applied in practice, although, as he will appreciate, the Israeli Government, like our Government, already have very wide discretion about how to apply their immigration laws.

Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): What is our policy on goods and services produced in the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories?

Boris Johnson: Our policy is that consumers should have the right to judge for themselves whether they wish to purchase them. That is a policy that this Government have pursued for many years.

Margaret Ferrier (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) (SNP): A Foreign Office Minister has previously described the situation in Hebron as apartheid and settlement endorsement as a form of extremism. Can the Secretary of State tell the House whether the Deputy Foreign Secretary Sir Alan Duncan would fall foul of the new law if he attempted to travel there?

Boris Johnson: I do not believe he has said anything of the kind or called for any such boycott, and nor do I believe for a second that he would be interrupted if he chose to go to Israel. I must stress that the policy of the Government is unchanged. We remain opposed to illegal settlements and we believe that they are an obstacle to peace. I have said that many times already in this House, but I am happy to repeat it to her.

Mrs Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) (Con): The main aim of the boycott movement is to delegitimise the state of Israel, so will the Government continue to strongly oppose it?

Boris Johnson: We certainly shall.

Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): Has the Foreign Secretary had any indication that such a ban might be extended to those who advocate a ban on goods from the occupied Golan Heights? Does he agree that the UK Government’s refusal to support a resolution at the UNHRC condemning the occupation of the Golan Heights increases that likelihood?

Boris Johnson: With great respect to him, I have made very clear what I thought was the profound absurdity of denouncing Israeli conduct in that region at a time when we are seeing absolute barbarism conducted by the Assad regime against the people of Syria.

Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon) (Lab): Many  Members on both sides of the House have called for a ban on goods produced in the illegal settlements on the West Bank. Does the Foreign Secretary think that those Members should be banned from travelling to Israel?

Boris Johnson: I am sure that  Members who wish to travel to Israel will have absolutely no difficulties, but it remains up to the Israeli immigration authorities to decide whom they choose to admit.

Tommy Sheppard (Edinburgh East) (SNP): I want to go back to that meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last Friday and the rather petulant tirade by the British mission, which ended with the threat to “adopt a policy of voting against all resolutions concerning Israel’s conduct in the Occupied…Palestinian Territories.”  Will the Secretary of State make it clear that it continues to be Her Majesty’s Government’s policy to oppose illegal settlements in the West Bank?

Boris Johnson: Yes.

Alan Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP): Will the UK Government make representations to the Israeli Government, as we have seen an increase in demolitions, including of donor-funded structures; the land regularisation Bill; the possibility of construction in [planning] area E1 [in the West Bank east of Jerusalem]; and the travel bans imposed by the Israeli Government. If the UK is really committed to doing all it can to achieve a two-state solution, is it not time to recognise Palestine, before it is too late?

Boris Johnson: Both the Prime Minister and I have raised this issue specifically with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and we will continue to do so. We are opposed to such demolitions and we continue to believe that continued illegal settlements are an obstruction to peace.

FCO promises to vote against its own policies on Palestine

Foreign Office questions, House of Commons, March 28 2017

The Foreign Office has issued a threat to vote against its own policies on Israel’s occupation of Palestine if the United Nations Human Rights Council does not end its “disproportionate focus on Israel”.

It fired the first warning shot last week when the Council voted on a motion calling on Israel to freeze construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank and on UN members to advise businesses of the legal and reputational risks of trading with illegal settlements.

Although both these points are already UK policy, and although all the other West European countries – Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal and Switzerland – voted in favour of the motion, the UK chose to abstain.

After the vote the UK Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Julian Braithwaite, issued an unusually strongly-worded attack on the UN’s “bias against Israel” ending with the threat that: “If there is no change, in the future we will adopt a policy of voting against all resolutions concerning Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Palestinian and Syrian Territories”.

This was raised at Foreign Office questions by Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Tom Brake and SNP MP Tommy Sheppard (right), who asked for a reassurance – after the “petulant tirade” from the UK Mission – that the UK was still opposed to illegal settlements.

Although the threat appeared In the official “Explanation of Voting” issued at the end of the debate by the UK Mission, some find it difficult to believe the Foreign Office would have allowed this threat to be made if it had not come from the Foreign Secretary himself.

One paragraph in particular departs sharply from the usual studiously even-handed approach of the Foreign Office: “We must recognise the continuing terrorism, incitement and violence that Israel faces. According to the Quartet’s report last year, there were 250 terrorist attacks, leading to the deaths of at least 30 Israelis. Renewed Hamas efforts to rebuild their tunnels are a grave concern. The scourge of anti-Semitic incitement and glorification of terrorism continue. And for as long as terrorists are treated as martyrs, peace will prove distant.”

In this one paragraph five one-sided accusations are made:

  1. “We must recognise the continuing terrorism, incitement and violence that Israel faces.” No mention is made of terrorism, incitement or violence faced by Palestinians, either from settlers or the Israeli army or the Israeli authorities.
  2. “According to the Quartet’s report last year, there were 250 terrorist attacks, leading to the deaths of at least 30 Israelis.” No mention is made of 247 Palestinians killed by Israelis in the same period.
  3. “Renewed Hamas efforts to rebuild their tunnels are a grave concern.” This fact is only relevant if it is assumed that Hamas is always the sole aggressor. No mention is made of arms Israel is stockpiling for future assaults on Gaza.
  4. “The scourge of anti-Semitic incitement and glorification of terrorism continue.” By use of the word ‘anti-Semitic’ the assumption is made that all incitement and terrorism is directed against Jewish people or Israel and none against Palestinian people or Arabs.
  5. “And for as long as terrorists are treated as martyrs, peace will prove distant.” (This appears to be directed against Palestinians, but in fact scores of streets in Israel are named after members of the Jewish militias who carried out terrorist attacks on the British and on Palestinians.)

This is bound to feed the suspicion that we are seeing a gradual unannounced reversal of the UK’s position, starting with the Prime Minister’s criticism of John Kerry’s speech in December, continuing with the boycott of the Paris peace conference – a calculated snub to the French government – and now a public disagreement with the German, Dutch, Belgians and even the Swiss, countries that have traditionally been far more reluctant to criticise Israel than the British.

This disagreement has not come over a matter of policy.  The ‘Explanation of Voting’ is full of reassurances that the UK’s policy has not changed: “We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the international community in the conviction that a two-state solution is the only sustainable path for delivering justice and human rights for both Israelis and Palestinians.

“The abstention should not be misconstrued. The trend of Israeli conduct in the Occupied Palestinian territories over the past year has been negative,” it says.

The issue is the Human Rights Council’s “disproportionate focus on Israel”.  It points out that human rights in Israel have been the subject of 68 of the 135 country-specific resolutions passed by Council since its inception.

The Council has spent so much time discussing human rights in Israel that they have given Israel a permanent slot on the agenda. Whatever else is happening in the world, Israel is always Agenda Item 7.

This is a reasonable complaint, but not a new one. The Council voted to make Israel agenda Item 7 in 2007 and it has been a contentious topic for the last ten years.  It is not something new that is causing the UK to reconsider its view about Israeli settlements.

Nor does the ‘Explanation of Voting’ say how it can be rational to vote against one’s own policy.   It will not bring any desirable goals closer. But it will push a number of desirable goals further away.

It will be seen as chasing a better trade deal with the Americans at the expense of the Palestinians. It reduces trust. It increases the frustration and anger in the Middle East.

The motion on which the UK abstained was passed by 36 votes to two.  Abstaining undermines our attempts to form a common position with other leading West European nations, especially France and Germany, which is essential if we are to help resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

It leaves us in a very isolated position. It is not clear how that will benefit the UK.


YES (36) Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland, Tunisia, UAE, Venezuela

ABSTAIN (9) Albania, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Panama, Paraguay, Rwanda, UK

NO (2) Togo, USA

Consumers have right to boycott Israeli settlement goods – Boris Johnson

Foreign Office questions, House of Commons, March 28 2017

Consumers have a right to decide for themselves whether or not to boycott Israeli goods.  That may sound like a statement of the obvious, but after the Israeli Knesset passed another anti-boycott law in March, it was reassuring to hear this from Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

Answering a question from Crispin Blunt (right), the Conservative chair of the Foreign Affairs bluntcommittee, about UK policy on buying goods from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, he said “consumers should have the right to judge for themselves whether they wish to purchase them”.

That needed saying after all the attempts to make it illegal to boycott settlement goods, not only in Israel, but even in the UK. Last year the Communities Department and the Cabinet Office tried to make it illegal for local authorities and public sector pension funds to adopt a policy of not buying from, or investing in illegal settlements.

On March 6 the Israeli Parliament has passed a law allowing the Border Police at Tel Aviv airport to refuse entry to foreign nationals if they – or an organisation they belong to – has publicly called for an end to trade with illegal settlements.

Since the Trade Union Congress has been calling for a ban on settlement goods since 2009, and the Co-op has banned settlement goods since 2013, and hundreds of other organisations have supported the ban, the new law puts millions of UK nationals at theoretical risk of being locked up and deported if they come to Tel Aviv airport.

Israeli border police already have the power to refuse entry without giving a reason and last year the Foreign Office was aware of 115 British nationals who were refused, 50 at Tel Aviv airport and 65 at the Jordanian border. There may have been many more.

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock pointed out that MPs from all parties had called for a ban on goods produced in the illegal settlements on the West Bank and could be banned from travelling to Israel.

Andy Slaughter MPLabour MP Andy Slaughter (left) raised the case of Hugh Lanning, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who was detained when he arrived at the airport in March at the head of a trade union delegation to Palestine. 

SNP MP Margaret Ferrier asked whether the Deputy Foreign Secretary, Sir Alan Duncan, could fall foul of the new law because he once described people who support the illegal settlements as “extremists”.

Labour MP Richard Burden asked whether Foreign Office ministers could be questioned because their website discourages financial and commercial dealings with settlements.

Boris Johnson said he has been pushing for clarification on the impact of the new law on UK nationals, but added: “I am sure that Members [of Parliament] who wish to travel to Israel will have absolutely no difficulties.”

In relation to his deputy, Alan Duncan, he said: “I do not believe he has said anything of the kind or called for any such boycott, and nor do I believe for a second that he would be interrupted if he chose to go to Israel.”

He is right in that Sir Alan did not specifically refer to boycotts in his speech to the Royal United Services Institute in 2011. What he said was: “Anyone who supports illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land is an extremist who puts themself outside the boundaries of democratic standards.

“They are not fit to stand for election or sit in a democratic parliament, and they should be condemned outright by the international community and treated accordingly.

“For too long we have been too submissive on the principle of illegal settlements, and it is high time we stopped being so, and reasserted clearly and without fear, exactly what is legally and morally right and what is legally and morally wrong.”

The truth is finally coming out about the dawn raid on a Bedouin village

The truth is only now finally coming out about the Israeli Army’s dawn raid on a Bedouin village in the Negev desert earlier this month that resulted in the death of two people – one Arab and one Israeli – and the demolition of six houses.

The first reports from the Israeli police said an Arab man, Yakub Al-Kian, had deliberately rammed his pick-up truck into a group of policeman, killing the Israeli victim Erez Levy. They also said he was a “terrorist” linked to the Islamic State and had four wives.

A different story came from the villagers.  Al-Kian, they said, was in his pick-up truck at 5 am when he saw bulldozers approaching. He started driving towards his house to rescue his possessions, but the police opened fire without warning, spraying bullets at his moving vehicle.

The autopsy has largely confirmed the villagers’ story.  Al-Kian received one bullet in the chest and another in the knee, causing him to lose control of the truck which then veered off the road and hit a group of policemen.  He was left to bleed to death in his truck.

According to reports on Israeli television, an inquiry by the Israeli Ministry of Justice will soon confirm that everything else that was said about him was also untrue. He was not a terrorist. He had no links to Islamic State. He was a local teacher. He had one wife, who is a Ph.D., and a brother who is an inspector with the Israeli Ministry of Education.

This level of disinformation is all too typical of incidents involving the Israeli police and the army, who put out their own ‘facts’ which are widely reported in the international media who – by the time the full facts are known – have usually lost interest in the story.

In this case the information was given out by the Israeli public security minister, Gilad Erdan, who is now saying he got the information from the police and was acting “to back up his troops”.  He says an apology will be issued to the family.

But the incident does shine a light on the largely unreported campaign of ethnic cleansing that the Israeli government is conducting against Bedouin villages in the Negev.  Their target on the morning of January 18 was the village of Umm Al Hiran which they plan to demolish in its entirety by February 28 in order to build, on its ruins, a village for Jewish Israelis only.

Riad and Mariam Al-Kian at their home in Umm al Hiran

This is the fate that awaits all of the so-called “unrecognised” Bedouin villages of the Negev, but the Umm Al Hiran case is perhaps the most shocking because it will be replaced by a village in the same place with the same name “Hiran”, but with Jewish instead of Arab inhabitants.

This is not because of land ownership issues.  The land was given to the Bedouin by the state in 1956 in compensation for their ancestral lands which were taken off them and given to an Israeli kibbutz after the Israeli war of independence.

Nor is it because there is a shortage of land – there are 3¼ million acres in the Negev and the built-up area of Umm al Hiran covers hardly more than an acre.

It is part of a deliberate plan – the Prawer plan that is officially “frozen” but is still being implemented – to evict the inhabitants of the 35 so-called “un-recognised” Bedouin villages and to move them into townships – with echoes of  both apartheid-era South Africa and the 18th-century clearances in the Scottish Highlands.

The current Israeli strategy is to persuade villagers to demolish their homes themselves by threatening them with heavy fines or to send in the bulldozers when it is dark to pull down a few houses at a time in the hope that the world will not notice.

This strategy failed on the morning of January 18 when trigger-happy police opened fire on a moving car, causing the death not only of a Bedouin but of one of their own colleagues and bringing unwelcome publicity in the international media.

Their strategy of trying to portray the Bedouin villagers as “terrorists” has also failed because the villagers are so reasonable, telling the world that they would be perfectly happy for a Jewish village to be built next to them and live as neighbours.

Members of a delegation of Labour Party members who visited the village just ten days before the latest demolitions were told by Riad Al-Kian, a cousin of the villager who died: “We were never against building a Jewish village here. We only requested that we would be included as part of this village and we can live together as neighbours and also receive some of the development that the Jewish village is going to get.

“I don’t understand why the Prime Minister is giving orders to demolish houses in the Negev, because we are Israeli citizens and we pay taxes and we want to be part of society and all we get in return is violence and hatred.”

Ironically, on the very morning that the bulldozers moved into Umm al Hiran, MPs from Labour Friends of Israel were presenting a Bill in the House of Commons supporting co-existence between Jews and Arabs, but embarrassingly in this case it was the Israeli government that turned down a proposal for the two villages to co-exist.

Riad and his wife Maryam also fail to conform to the Israeli caricature of Bedouin as nomadic herders with little or no education. Maryam is a teacher at a local school and is studying for master’s degree and Riad runs a transport business.

The 500 villagers include a good many doctors, engineers or teachers, but they prefer to live in their village where, they say, the crime rate and the unemployment rate are zero rather than move into flats in new townships where both crime and unemployment are high.

They have little reason to be grateful to the Israeli government as the “unrecognised” villages receive no electricity, no water, no telephone lines, no metalled roads, no services of any kind. This is not because it is remote. On the contrary, the Jewish owner of a dog-kennel only 800 metres away is provided with all mod cons.

This is also a contrast with the new village that will be built on the ruins of their houses. This new Hiran will be built with all infrastructure in place and even with a cemetery already provided even before anyone has moved in.

“Unrecognised” villages are not shown on any official map and their residents are not allowed to build permanent structures or make any attempt to surface the roads or link up to water supplies. Often if the villagers try to pave the roads, army bulldozers break them up; if they install water pipes, they are disconnected; if they build stone houses, they are demolished. The Israeli government wants the buildings to look temporary, ramshackle, worthless.

This makes it easier for them to sustain the myth that the villagers are nomads who originate from other countries. In fact it is historically verifiable that their families have lived in the Negev for hundreds of years.

In the winter their solar panels don’t provide enough electricity even for lighting and Maryam has to heat water on a gas stove when she gets back from school to keep her baby warm. On top of that she is always listening out for bulldozers and wondering when they will come for her house.

“I don’t understand whether Netanyahu expects us to vaporise or what, because he doesn’t give us any sustainable solution to our situation,” she says.

Traditionally, the Bedouin have been less militant than the Arabs in other parts of Israel, with a number of them serving in the army, but the evictions and demolitions have started to change that. “We feel that this policy causes Arabs to have nothing but hatred in their heart towards the Jewish community. This is the real tragedy. We want our children to grow up knowing that it is possible to live together and work and study together and to lead a shared life, Jewish and Arab both.

“I would like you to tell me if you know of any state – other than apartheid states – that would treat their citizens like that because they are Bedouins and still present themselves as a Western progressive country.

“The international community is in many ways like the mother and father of the state of Israel and we think it is time that you should say to the Israeli government: ‘Stop for a second! Open your mind!

“We as a community are trying so hard to be peaceful and observe the law and are being treated like felons. Not only us but all of the Arab community are all suffering from the same form of racism and we think it is time that somebody would intervene and stop that.”

It is not too late. The 500 villagers are still there. Two families have agreed to demolish their own houses and another six were demolished in the raid on January 18. But 22 houses remain. The Israeli army hopes to clear the whole village by February 28.

The villagers know that the only thing that will stop the Israeli government is an outcry from the international community.  So write to your MP now.


Only international protest will save the villagers from being evicted


Villagers say only international protests can stop the Israelis from demolishing the village.

This village is in Israel, not the Palestinian Territories. Its residents are full citizens of Israel.  Yet they are treated as though they had no rights, no importance.

At the time of Israel’s war of independence in 1948 the villagers were thrown out of their ancestral village in a more fertile area in the Western Negev to make way for a Jewish kibbutz as part of the drive to “make the desert bloom”.

Eight years later they were forcibly moved again to their present location in the Atir valley in the less fertile northern Negev where they rebuilt their village and called it Um Al Hiran.

“It was a desert with no roads, water, houses or services. We built the village. We invested in the houses, the roads and the water pipes. Life has been tough, but we worked hard to develop this place into a beautiful and wonderful village,” said the village sheikh.

Like all the other “unrecognised” villages in the Negev, they are provided with no mains electricity, no paved roads, no water, no sanitation.  They have to do their best buying water from tankers and using solar panels for intermittent power.
This is not because it is remote. On the contrary, the Jewish owner of a dog-kennel only 800 metres away is provided with all mod cons. The Israelis do this solely to make life difficult for Arab villagers so they will move.

And it is not a question of money. Often if the villagers try to pave the roads, army bulldozers break them up; if they install water pipes, they are disconnected; if they build stone houses, they are demolished. The Israelis want the buildings to look temporary, ramshackle, worthless.

This makes it easier for the Israelis to sustain the myth that the villagers are Bedouin nomads who originate from other countries. In fact, while they are all proud of their Bedouin heritage, it is historically verifiable that their families have lived in the Negev for hundreds of years.

And while a few of the villagers are still engaged in the traditional Bedouin occupation of sheep-farming, Umm Al Hiran also has lawyers, teachers and doctors among its 500 residents.

A few weeks ago the leader of the Jewish settlers came and drank coffee with the villagers to ask them, disingenously, why they were trying to block plans for the new Jewish village in the courts.

Salim Abu Alkia’n, Atwa’s brother, explained patiently: “To all the Jewish people who want to live in this town I say that people are already living in this town. We have been living here for 60 years and, even if they demolish our homes, we will stay here forever.”

Israelis can be excused for not knowing about the village, as it does not appear on Israeli maps.  Even when the National Council for Planning and Building approved plans for a new Jewish town on the site in 2010, they submitted a map to the planning committee that made no reference to the fact that there was already an Arab village on the land.

When they applied for demolition orders, they claimed the buildings “had been discovered” by an inspection patrol and they had been “unable to identify or reach the people who owned the houses”.

When they applied for eviction orders, they described the villagers as “trespassers” squatting illegally on state land and the magistrate had to point out that they had lived on the land for years with the state’s knowledge and consent.

Israeli bulldozers set to demolish Israeli Arab village to build Israeli Jewish town

Umm Al HiranEmboldened by the election of Donald Trump, the Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu was reported to be sending his army’s bulldozers in at dawn today (Tuesday) to demolish this peaceful Bedouin village in Israel.

The Israeli government has long been planning to demolish the village of Umm Al Hiran and evict its inhabitants in order to build a Jewish village with the same name – Hiran – on exactly the same location.

For the last two years Netanyahu has been delaying the demolition because of international protests at this extreme case of ethnic cleansing, but now with Trump elected, he gave the go-ahead for the village to be razed.

The 500 Arab residents of the village have lived in the village for nearly 60 years and were ordered to move there by the Israeli military commander of the Negev who gave them a lease to build a village, farm the land and graze their sheep.

The village leaders say there is no need to evict them as the Jewish settlers can move onto a site nextdoor. “We are not against them living here, but we want to stay here too and live together with them as neighbours,” says Atwa Abu Alkia’n.

They point out that there is plenty of space – 3¼ million acres – in the Negev and the settlers don’t need to move to the one small acre of land where they have been living since 1956.

The Israeli state has made it clear that the new village is for Jewish residents only and the Arabs must move out.