3/2/05

Negev Bedouins to sue the state for massive crop destruction

   

THE ASSOCIATION FOR SUPPORT AND DEFENCE
OF THE BEDOUINS’ RIGHTS IN ISRAEL

Press release 3/2/2005

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…not only in East-Jerusalem… Negev Bedouins to sue the state
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“The Bedouin are not squatters – government act was totally illegal”

After taking legal advice, Bedouin inhabitants of the Negev intend to sue the government of Israel for major damages, following a massive destruction of their crops by government-chartered tractors earlier this week.

The Bedouin are not squatters. They are peaceful farmers, citizens of the state of Israel since it was first established and who had worked their land for many generations before that, who are in possession of all the necessary documents, and who had asserted their ownership of the land in a document submitted to the Ministry of Justice as long as 40 years ago.

On February 1 this week, in the early hours of the morning, the state “organized” itself for the purpose of assaulting its Bedouin citizens, in order to ruin their agricultural work on their land. Thus they destroyed close to 5000 dunams (about 1200 acres) belonging to the Elokbi, Altori, Abu Madigum and Abu Siam tribes.

Personnel of the government’s Land Office and the so-called “Green Patrol” invaded the Bedouin land, accompanied by hundreds of ordinary policemen, Border Policemen and fully armed and equipped soldiers, having at their disposal everything from horses to helicopters. They had all come to convoy and guard the demolition contractors, who had the best of agricultural equipment – which they used not in order to prepare the land for planting, but on the contrary to destroy and ruin the agricultural work of their Bedouin fellow citizens.

This act is clearly illegal. It is illegal even under the recently enacted “Squatter Removal Amendment” whose whole purpose is evicting and removing the Bedouin citizens of Israel from their land – land which is deemed to be “state land” regardless of the generations that they lived and worked on it. Even under this harsh and manifestly unjust law, the government is supposed to give the inhabitants a warning in advance and give them time to protest or challenge the act in a court of law. This requirement the government arrogantly ignored, sending their troops in without any warning.

The Bedouins do not intend to ignore this criminal act, the destruction of their agriculture and the threat to evict them from the land. “We will demand compensation from the state for the damage done to us by its agents, and insist on an assurance of the full rights of the Bedouin population.

Of course, we stand upon our right to hold on to and to work our land and property.

Further info: Nuri Elokbi, Association Chair +972-54-5465556

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