Forced Displacement of Bedouins, an Ethnic Cleansing !

Forced Displacement of Bedouins, an Ethnic Cleansing !


Palestinian Bedouins in the Occupied territories in general and in Jerusalem area in particular are facing serious and critical threat to their lands, lives and survival by the Israeli occupation, being in the frontline against the colonial Jewish expansion scheme, known as settlement activities, which is based on ongoing land appropriation and confiscation for the realization of the Greater Jerusalem Scheme. The Bedouin Palestinians have been an adamant obstacle for the realization of these schemes by refusing to give up or compromise their lands and, therefore, have long been subjected to economic, social, cultural and health-wise suffering.


In light of the intensified campaign to forcibly displace the Bedouins of Jerusalem area, researchers from the Land Research Center (LRC) conducted a field research within the activities of the housing and residency rights campaign managed by the Civic Coalition for Defending Palestinians' Rights n Jerusalem (CCDPRJ). Conducted in January 2008, this research involved 10 Bedouin communities in the west, north and east of Jerusalem and aimed to loudly echo the voice of the Bedouins: 'Get your hands off us… Let us back to Beersheba, from which you forcibly displaced us.'


Overview on Bedouins in Palestine:

With their specific lifestyle and manner of living between settlement and nomad character, the Bedouins in Palestine have formed an integral social group in the Palestinian society since centuries, located mainly in the Naqab area, which accounts for 33% of the total area of Palestine, since the Byzantine era in general and for at least 1500 years (Ilan Pappe in his book 'The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine'), structured within seven tribes and over ninety clans.


Prior to 1948, Bedouins were mostly concentrated in Naqab and south Hebron with smaller numbers in Haifa area and Toubas. In 1946, their number was estimated in the range between 57,000 and 95,500 (Dr. Ghazi Falah in his book 'The Forgotten Palestinians,' 1989) according to different statistics from Palestinian, British mandate and Israeli sources. According to official sources of 1931, 90% of Bedouins in Naqab have worked in agriculture and 10% in pastoral life. The same sources also indicate that the Bedouins have cultivated million dunums annually and that 2.5 millions dunums have been cultivated but often failed. These facts are significant in that they affirm that the Naqab Bedouins have been forcibly displaced in 1948 so that Israel can appropriate their land and end their resistance. In this regard, the Jewish historian and ideologist Ilan Pappe states, 'In November 1948, the Israeli troops expelled 11 clans at once together and confined 19 clans in reserved areas defined by Israel as closed military zones that nobody can leave unless by obtaining a special permit. The expulsion of Naqab Bedouins continued through 1959.' In page 248, the same historian adds, 'Bedouins in Naqab remained vulnerable to expulsion measures through 1962, when Israel forced the Hawashleh clan to deport in trucks, demolished their houses and seized their lands.


The 1948 Nakbeh led to the displacement of the majority of the 800,000 population of the occupied Palestine. The Nakbeh and its aftermaths also displaced more than three quarters of the original Arab residents of Naqab. By 1953, only 11,000 Bedouins from seven tribes remained in Naqab according to the book 'The Forgotten Palestinians.' In this book, Christina Jones states that 'the Israeli authorities denied the Bedouins Israeli ID cards until mid 1952. This made it easy to expel them from Israel as they were not officially recognized by the State as local citizens. Therefore, it is difficult for the international public opinion to identify the size of the 'expulsion crime.' Later, the State moved the remaining groups from their land and then considered them absentees and confiscated their properties.'


Following the 1948 Nakbeh, refugee Bedouins displaced from their lands generally moved to various parts of the West Bank. Part of them left to the eastern side of Jordan river and settled there and another part moved to Gaza Strip under the Egyptian rule. Additionally, part of them found shelter in the West Bank between Hebron, Jerusalem, Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea and Tubas and another part relatively 'settled' in Jerusalem area to the east, northeast and northwest. They used to move around in summer and winter in search for pasture, water and warm weather between the mountains and plains, along with their livestock that has been adequate to allow them to live in sufficiency and dignity. They never faced any exceptional constraints on their movement and life style as Bedouins and enjoyed the same rights as all other citizens. But all of this changed when Palestine became entirely under the Israeli occupation in June 1967.


The Israeli occupation targets Bedouins in general and those in Jerusalem district in particular:

Confrontation between the Israeli occupation and the Bedouin community never stopped since the beginning of the Israeli occupation of the entire Palestine in general and Jerusalem in particular. At times, confrontation intensified as dictated by the Israeli occupation's colonial plans for settlement activities. At the beginning, between 1967 and 1971, the Israeli occupying army sought to displace the Bedouins from the Jordan Valley claiming that this is a border area and a hot military zone, thus forcing them to move out of the western bank of Jordan river. Then, the army claimed that the new area, to which the Bedouins were forced to move, is designated for military training and camps and they have to leave it. The new area, to which they were forced to move for the second time, was claimed to be a green are, where grazing is not allowed! The Bedouins were threatened that if they violate the orders and remain on this land, their herds and shepherds will become a target for the Israeli fire and the owners will be jailed and heavily fined. Additionally, if the so called 'Green Patrols' (which are named 'green' but are in fact black in terms of their oppressive acts) would come face to face with a Bedouin's sheep, the Bedouin would face the risk of being physically targeted and his sheep would be confiscated and moved to areas at a distance of hundreds of kilometers. In such case, the owner has to pay a heavy fine to release the sheep and will have to compensate the authorities for the detention and feeding of the sheep, as well as the cost of transporting them back to the rest of the livestock. Sometimes, it would be less costly for the Bedouin to give up his sheep instead of paying the heavy fines and fees. In other cases, he would be forced to sell some of his livestock in order to cover the fines resulting from such unjust confiscation.


On the other hand, Bedouins' confrontation with Jewish settlers has been disastrous. Armed with weapons and explosives, the settlers used to plant explosives in lands around their settlements and in pastures and used to poison agricultural products and water wells, causing death to humans and animals that constitute the source of livelihood for Bedouins. Such incidents occurred in March and May 2005, when the poisoned forage caused the death of livestock in Hebron area.


At the beginning, the Jewish settlers, supported by Israeli police, border guards, and special forces, targeted the Bedouins seeking to remove their dwellings and demolish their houses in order to build Jewish settlements on their place. Many Bedouins suffered injuries due to the use of firearms, sound bombs, tear gas and beating by clubs, as well as carrying and dragging the Bedouins to force them to abandon their dwellings, which are immediately demolished and leveled with earth and rocks by the Israeli bulldozers, while confiscating the power generators, water tanks and all other assets. Such incidents occurred with Bedouin communities in Bir Al-Maskoob and Wad Abu Hindi areas, which were forced to move on the pretext of road construction, as well as in Bethany, Anata, Hizma, Jaba'. Mukhmas and other lands to establish or expand Jewish settlements.


(photo 2: Israeli occupation forces destroying dwellings and barns
of Jahalin Bedouins east to Anata town)

(photo 3: A common pattern used in the forced displacement of Bedouins)

Photo courtesy of Al Quds newspaper


Forced displacement is a form of ethnic cleansing:

Harassment and displacement of Bedouins is an old new policy that started with the 1948 Nakbeh and still ongoing. But it was escalated since 1962, aggravated following Madrid conference and Oslo Accords and intensified and became a major threat to their lives before starting the final solution negotiations with the aim of creating new facts on the ground. The aggressions proportionally intensify with the increasing efforts to reinforce the colonial expansion schemes. Hence, the Bedouins have been facing a serious threat since Wye River talks and this threat has intensified and became critical when Sharon announced the war of hills in parallel to second Camp David talks. This confirms that the Bedouins are right when they claim that 'We form the first frontline in defending the land and confronting the settlement expansion policy.'


In his book 'The Forgotten Palestinians,' Dr. Ghazi Falah states: 'The Zionist forces entered Naqab in late November 1948 and displaced its Arab population to every direction. More than three fourths of the Bedouin population were displaced and Beersheba City was completely emptied from its Arab population.'


'By 1953, only 11,000 Bedouins remained in Naqab… They remained for 15 years confined and denied the right to go in and out of an area of about 1 million dunums, with only 40,000 dunums of arable land, while Israel appropriated 38% of this land and confiscated the remaining part and rented it to the Bedouins.'


In his book 'The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine,' the Jewish historian Ilan Pappe reports, 'The Bedouins in Naqab remained subjected to expulsion measures through the year 1962, when the Hawashleh clan was forced to leave: Under the night darkness, 750 people were loaded onto trucks and moved out, while their houses were demolished and the 8,000 dunums of lands they used to own were confiscated.'


The same vision and practice of the past is still governing the mentality and practice of the Israeli occupation today, which views the Arabs in Galilee 'a cancer in the State's body.' This is the same view of Arabs by the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, Rafael Eytan, as 'cockroaches' that should be confined in a bottle.


Ina field survey made in the first half of January 2008 on more than ten Bedouin communities wet, north and east to Jerusalem, who received orders to evacuate the land, where they reside and live, the citizens stated, 'the only goal of the occupation is to force us out and appropriate our land.' This means ethnic cleansing of the land from its owners – the same vision that caused the ethnic cleansing by forcibly evacuating over 600 citizens from their houses in Al-Magharbeh (Moroccan) neighborhood, demolishing the houses and appropriating the land. This incidence took place five days only after the occupation of Jerusalem in 11 June 1967. This is the same racist vision that forcibly and under threats of killing and even by actual killing evacuated the population of the three villages in Latroun: Imwas, Yalo and Betello, displacing their residents, demolishing their houses and confiscating their lands in June 1967 following the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem, its villages and the rest of Palestine.


In pursuing its racist policy of colonial expansion and following the principle 'the ends justify the means,' the Israeli occupation has persistently adopted all means of pressure, threat, intimidation and oppression to make the land free of non-Jaws. Such measures included the restriction of pastoral areas and removal of means of livelihood there, raising the price of unsubsidized forage from 600 NIS to 2,000 NIS and imposing various types of penalties on Bedouin citizens. Such penalties included financial fines, confiscation of water tanks, power generators and livestock, imprisonment of Bedouins, physical aggression and killing of the Bedouins and their livestock, road blocks to isolate Bedouin communities and deprive them from access to services and even the destruction of available services, such as the destruction of the primary school in Wad Abu Hindi.


Photo 4: The first Bedouin primary school established by the Palestinian
Authority and demolished by the Israeli occupation




The series of measures continue to include the destruction of roads, forcing children to walk 8-10 km on foot in order to reach school, as well as house raids by Israeli armed patrols in Bedouin communities day and night, such as the case with a Bedouin community in Al-Jib area, which was subjected to raid by the army at 3:00 AM to register the ID numbers and telephone numbers of Bedouin citizens, thus terrifying children and women. Moreover, the official authorities have always demonstrated collusion and approval of aggressions by armed Jewish settlers against the Bedouins, causing threats to their lives, properties and lands. Bedouin communities have often been subjected to raids, forcibly entering the houses and leveling them with earth along with all their furniture and properties, such as the case with Bir Al-Maskoob community on the pretext of building a bypass road. Bedouins have also been displaced to lands that they do not own and many were left to stay in the open air, as the case on 17 January 2008, when the Israeli bulldozers completely removed the houses of the families of Ibrahim Abu Dahouk and his five sons, which account for 30 members, and the Israeli soldiers used physical and psychological violence against them, including  their mother Fatima, 52 years. The motive behind this incident was the Israeli separation wall built on the lands of Nabi Samuel village, to the south from Al-Jib. The Israeli authorities demanded two other communities in the same area to leave the area within one week to escape the same fate as Abu Dahouk families. Building Jewish settlement, like Ma'ale Adumim, Jav'on, Giv'at Ze'ev and others, on the lands and ruins of Bedouin communities is an additional indication that the Israeli occupation in essence is about 'displacement, appropriation and replacement.'





Photo 5: Children of Ibrahim Abu Dahouk family prior to demolishing their house



Photo 6: Abu Dahouk children: 'We used to have a house but it was destroyed by the occupation




Forced displacement of land owners to appropriate the land:


The only to achieve this goal is to target the Bedouins and force them to abandon their social and cultural lifestyle, which is acknowledged by all International conventions and agreements on human rights. At the time of publishing this report, the Bedouin community on the lands of Nabi Samuel to the south of Al-Jib village and northwest of Jerusalem was the last, but not the least example of the Israeli policy of ethnic cleansing of Bedouins. Um Ahmad, 45 years, stated: 'When the bulldozers burst in on us to demolish our houses, I was along with children and women inside. My son came in to help us but the soldiers stopped him in the way and started to beat him brutally. When I tried to protect him from their arms and legs, they started beat me on my chest with the gun in front of my children. It still hurts…'




Photo 7: Abu Ahmad Abu Dahouk: They want us to leave… We will leave only to Tal 'Arad, our original homeland



Photo 8: Um Ahmad collecting stuff scattered by the Israeli machinery after her house was demolished


The Israeli separation and annexation wall on the lands of Al-Jib and Nabi Samuel villages, threatening remove and displace three Bedouin communities from Abu Dahouk clan




Another example prior to this one is that of Ka'abneh clan community on the lands of Mukhmas village northeast of Jerusalem in the area known as Baqa'a. Mohammed from Ka'abneh clan reported that 'a large military force accompanied by a military bulldozer came on 2 January 2008 and started to demolish, destroy and break down 13-14 barracks, including 5 housing barracks and another one for livestock keeping. In result, the dwellings of Omar Arar and Suleiman Salman were demolished and they were not allowed to evacuate any piece of their furniture. The families and the sheep were left in the open air.' Mohammed form Ka'abneh clan continued to say, 'We live in a n agricultural community on a Palestinian registered land. Why should we leave and where can we go?!'



(photo 9: Ka'abneh Bedouin community – East of Al-Ram)



Photo 10: Azazmeh Bedouin community – Northeast of Al-Ram


Mohammed from Azazmeh clan stated, 'Two years ago, the civil administration handed us warnings to leave but without indicating where to. We told them: Let us go back to our land in Beersheba. The Israeli official said: You are not allowed. Go to Anata. We replied: The land there has its owners.'





Photo 11: A Jewish settlement overlooking and crawling towards Arab Al-Jahalin community in Bir Al-Maskoob



Photo 12: The Israeli occupation bulldozers removing the community in favor of the settlement


In Al-Jib, citizens from Al-Jahalin Bedouins stated, 'Three weeks ago, a large number of soldiers came and raided the houses – tents – at 3:30 AM and recorded ID numbers, telephone numbers and numbers of household members. A week later, several military Jeeps arrived in the company of zoning officials and checked the family names rather than the clan name and told us it is possible that we will have to leave.'




In Anata, a Bedouin from Saray'ah – Jahalin clan said, 'Since four years and over, the Israeli army and civil administration have been threatening us to force us out. On 29 November 2004, a large number of border guards, special forces and police invaded the Bedouin community in Wa'r Al-Baik area and the bulldozers destroyed more than 60 barracks that shelter more than 22 families from Saray'ah, Tanbeh, Mazawdeh and Fukara clans, in addition to more than 35 barracks and barns for and sheep and poultry. The Bedouins, including women and children, were beaten and some were hospitalized. The only thing the army officers and civil administration officials were saying is 'Leave this area no matter where you might go. Just leave.'




Bedouins' economic status as they described it:


Bedouins suffer from persistent impoverishment, which is preplanned by the occupying authorities through different means. First is the restriction of pastures by declaring the lands as green areas, military zones, reserved for roads and other pretexts. Lately, the annexation and expansion wall has appropriated the remaining potential grazing areas. Second impoverishment means is the policy of regular Bedouin displacement, which causes young sheep to die when it happens in the time when they are born and when the weather is cold. A third factor is the rise in the price of barley – forage – from 600 NIS to 1,200 NIS and the price of oat from 16 NIS to 60 NIS. Another factor is unemployment, which a Bedouin estimated with irony as standing at 201%, while another described as terrible (80%) and a third said it is at 200%. They stated that they asked the Palestinian Authority to subsidize the forage or exempt them from paying taxes for it, but their request was turned down. In addition, they stated that they do not get any benefits that unemployed workers are entitled to receive.




.The Bedouins in Palestine rely on sheep keeping. But the Israeli occupation's policies and measures have made it more expensive to raise a head of livestock than to raise a son or daughter. Sheep are no longer able to feed by themselves, but rather 'the sheep now depend on our livelihood instead of providing for our livelihood,' as one described. So those keeping sheep started to sell them and those keeping poultry started to do so. Other statements made by Bedouin citizens include: 'The Authority should have adopted a token system for each shepherd. Support with forage by international agencies can only help for a week because it is not planned well. Additionally, there are no offices – veterinary clinics – in the regions to immunize the sheep against diseases. Sometimes, the response is irresponsible, in other times very slow and ultimately the loss is at a national level.' Another statement: 'We asked for protection of livestock keeping by banning or programming the import of sheep and controlling the prices of meat according to the interest of livestock capital in our country. Those who used to own 200 heads can now own 15 heads only.'






Photo 13: Sheep used to provide for our livelihood… But now sheep is living on our livelihood




In one of the Bedouin communities, the Mukhtar (Chief) said, 'We used to have 12,000 heads of sheep but now we have 4,500 only. With such rate, I estimate that soon we won’t have a single head.'




It is difficult to measure the livestock capital of sheep owned by Bedouins in Jerusalem district for several reasons. However, about half of the interviewed estimated it at about 10,000 heads as of 2008. However, the Salamat Al-Jahalin clan alone used to own over 20,000 heads of sheep in the early 1990s.




Bedouins' health status:


Some Bedouin communities suffer from the lack of coverage by a Palestinian health insurance that would ensure their access to services in view of the high cost beyond the affordability of Bedouin citizens. Some communities, which are enrolled in the Palestinian governmental health insurance system, indicated that the services are limited, 'similar to painkiller,' and many cannot afford to pay the premiums. Additionally, Bedouins and other Jerusalem residents willing to join the health insurance system should go to register in Ramallah, while those wishing to renew their insurance should do so in Bethany in the farthest east of Jerusalem, even if they live in Beit Surik or Khirab Al-Lahem from the farthest northwest of he City.




Bedouins carrying UNRWA relief cards, who comprise over 77% of the total, complained especially that since 1976, services have been limited and available only in major localities.




It is noteworthy that the Bedouin are not aware of how to benefit from the health issuance services, whether governmental or UNRWA-operated. They need education in this field, which requires special cooperation on part of health institutions towards the Bedouins – an element that is still largely lacking.






In the field of education. The Bedouin communities demanded the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA to provide them with opportunities for primary education, particularly in clusters of communities. They also demanded the provision of transport for children in Bedouin communities in Mukhmas, Al-Khan Al-Ahmar and Abu George Road, to schools usually located at a distance of 8-10 km. For instance, children in Al-Ram community have to walk about 10 km to reach school and go back home. Mukhtar Abu Hussein stated, 'We have about 130 students, whose families have to pay 100 NIS per month to cover the transportation cost, which creates a large financial burden for them. We demanded to open a primary school in the community but the civil administration rejected the request.' Citizens indicated that the Bedouins lack access to educational opportunities, giving live examples on this situation. 'A female student, who scored 96.9% in the scientific stream final exams wanted to study medicine but eventually she was forced to study computer.' Some attributed this situation to bureaucracy and conservatism, while others provided other reasons. At the same time, school dropout rates are high. For example, out of 30 primary schoolchildren in a community, two dropped school last year: one after failing school and the other for other reasons. The Bedouin citizens demanded the UNRWA as an international agency to shoulder the responsibility of providing them with educational opportunities in schools for their children and in teacher qualification programs in Al-Tireh. The demanded for establishing primary schools in their communities wherever possible to ensure children's safety and comfort and end their miserable trips on foot for long distances to and from schools in the cold winter and the hot summer. They expressed the need for exerting pressures on the Israeli occupation authorities to allow NGOs to open schools and kindergartens in localities, where such services are needed.






Photo 14: The school-in-tent, which combines several grades, was established on the ruins of the first Bedouin school demolished by the Israeli occupation




We are marginalized and forgotten:


During the field research in some Bedouin communities, the interviewees stated to the field researchers from the Land Research Center and the CCDPRJ Campaign on Housing and Residency Rights that, in their attempts to force them out of their lands, where they have been living for less or more than 50, 40 and 20 years, the Israeli occupying authorities employs the pretext that the Palestinian Authority, in the Declaration of Principles in Oslo and Madrid talks, has agreed on the classification of Palestinian areas to three categories: A, B and C and agreed on the condition that West Bankers – holders of Palestinian ID cards – will not be allowed to live in the area C. This is in spite of the fact that most the Bedouins live in area C and most arable lands are located in area C. The Bedouins also reported inadequate cooperation on part of agricultural and health departments. As one stated, 'The [Palestinian] Authority has no planning for Bedouins,' or 'The Bedouins seem to be missing in the Authority's agenda.' The citizens demanded the Palestinian Authority to help in ensuring access to water in Bedouin localities.




The interviewed citizens expressed feelings of bitterness and pain through various expressions with the same meaning: the Bedouins are forgotten, the Bedouins are not on the Authority&#39;s agenda, we are marginalized, we are facing discrimination, etc. We are reporting these expressions to encourage all of us in the Authority, NGOs and civil society to employ self-criticism in order to identify the shortcomings of our performance and practice at all levels, starting from the decision-making level< on order to take corrective actions and ensure fair treatment of those suffering from prejudice, particularly Bedouin citizens. This is especially important in view of he fact that they are targeted by the Israeli occupation in military and civil terms and in terms of all their economic, social and cultural rights, primarily their right to residency and free mobility with their herds in their homeland. These rights are enshrined in and ensured by the human rights codes and all international norms and conventions.




A call to the Palestinian Authority and NGOs:


We in the Civic Coalition&#39;s Campaign for Housing and Residency Rights join our voice to the voice of Bedouins in their demands, which they already submitted to the Palestinian Authority in its capacity as the official reference point:


  • Protecting them and their existence in localities, where most of them were born prior to the Oslo and Madrid political process.

  • Subsidizing forage and applying tax exemptions on forage products, especially barley and oat.

  • Creating opportunities for pasture development and establishing specialized pasture-related projects.

  • Providing mobile and permanent veterinary labs in Ramallah and other areas to help diagnose and treat animal diseases.

  • Enacting laws to protect Bedouins&#39; products and facilitate their marketing in a rewarding manner, as well as to protect Bedouin producers of sheep and meat.

  •  Establishing new diary industries and involve Bedouin families in such projects.

  • Assisting I the provision of basic services: water, electricity, medical care and treatment, and free primary education, in Bedouin communities through ministerial district offices and local councils in the closest towns.

  • Launching an international campaign to end the policy of ethnic cleansing of Bedouins and to allow them to return to the areas, which they were forced to leave.

  • Developing effective programs for the social and economic rehabilitation of Bedouin communities.




Number of the Bedouin population in Jerusalem district:


It is difficult to claim in this report an accurate number of the Bedouin population in Jerusalem district for several reasons. First, the present report does not represent a comprehensive survey of all Bedouin communities. Second, there are no such statistics available to the Bedouins themselves and those representing their communities or tribes. Third, no updated official statistics are available due to the nomad-like pattern of living of Bedouins. Finally, the most important reason is the overall situation of the entire nation under the Israeli occupation. Nonetheless, a number of the interviewed Mukhtars, key informants and citizens tended to provide an estimation in the range of 900 families with an average number of 6 members per family. All of these represent the clans of Arab Al-Jahalin and Arab Al-Ka&#39;abneh, distributed to over 30 communities in about 13 localities in Jerusalem district: on the lands of such towns and villages as Beit Iksa, Beit Hanina, Nabi Samuel, Al-Jib, Anata, Hizma, Al-Ram, Al-Eisawiyeh – Abu George Road, Jaba&#39;, Bir Al-Maskoob, Bethany and Abu Dis in the Raghabneh and Wad Abu Hindi areas.




Once in this location, there was 60 dwellings sheltering more than 22 families from Saray&#39;ah, Tanbeh, Mazawdeh and Fukara clans, as well as 35 barracks and barns to the east of Anata town, but all were destroyed by the Israeli occupation on 29 November 2004.




The call of the Palestinian Bedouins remains loud: &#39;Until we return to our communities and lands in Beersheba and Naqab, we will remain faithful to our strife for return








 Prepared by
The Land Research Center





Categories: Reports