Um Al Hiran before and after the demolitions today, 18 January 2017
At 5am on Wednesday, 18th January, Israeli bulldozers and hundreds of fully-armed Israeli police entered the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev region of Israel to carry out evictions and demolitions. Israeli aggression was reported with tear gas, sponge-tipped bullets, and live ammunition fired. Two people were killed –Erez Levy a member of the Israeli police and Yaqub Musa Abu Qi’an, a teacher and resident of Umm al-Hiran. Several others were wounded including Knesset member Ayman Odeh leader of the Israeli Arab Joint List.
More detailed news can be found in this article posted by ActiveStills https://972mag.com/two-killed-in-bedouin-village-slated-to-be-demolished-replaced-with-jewish-town/124514/ and on the ICAHD UK Facebook page.
- Villagers morn following the demolitions and deaths. Image: PNN
Your help is needed urgently and we ask you to write to your MP (or Senator if in the US) about this incident with the request to contact the FCO. Below please find an example of a letter to use when contacting your MP.
SAMPLE LETTER FOR MP
Dear Mr/Ms [MP’s name],
I am writing to you regarding home demolitions today, 18th January, in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev region of Israel. The violence there is yet another demonstration that Israel is not serious about providing equal rights to its citizens who are not Jewish.
The residents of Umm Al-Hiran were originally the inhabitants of the village of Khirbet Zubaleh, who were moved by Israeli military order in 1956 to the land where Umm al-Hiran currently stands. Despite being forced onto this land by the Israeli state, the village remained officially unrecognised — as is the case with roughly half of all Bedouin villages — and as it was constructed on Israeli state land, the Israeli government claims it has the legal right to destroy it. The residents of Umm Al-Hiran recently lost their 13-year long legal battle over their claim to this land granted them by the Israeli government, a verdict they deem unfair.
The purpose of today’s demolitions was to evict more of its 500 residents, including many children and a 100-year-old man Musa Hussien Abu Al Qian. Israel wants to build a new town called “Hiran” for religious Jewish residents in its place. The Bedouin residents of Umm Al-Hiran have repeatedly expressed their willingness to accept new Jewish neighbours in a location next to them. Much of the Negev desert is uninhabited and therefore a new developments could be built anywhere on this vast stretch of empty land. The Israeli state plans to move the residents of Umm Al-Hiran to the Bedouin towns of Hura or Rahat, where due to lack of space they will be forced to lose their rural way of life and sources of income, such as cattle grazing. Furthermore, the residents of Hura and Rahat have expressed their concerns at the addition of hundreds of new residents into their communities due a severe shortage of land, exemplified by a waiting list of 2000 for 140 available plots in Hura.
Today hundreds of fully-armed police officers entered Umm Al-Hiran. They fired tear gas, sponge-tipped bullets, and live ammunition. In addition to the demolitions, two people were killed – one Israeli member of the police and one Palestinian resident of Umm al-Hiran and several others were wounded. Among those wounded was a Knesset member Ayman Odeh leader of the Israeli Arab Joint List.
On 23rd November 2016, the Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood, called for renewed negotiations where, “Israeli authorities and [the] Bedouin community work together to find a solution that meets the needs and respects the rights of the people affected”. The Bedouins of Umm Al-Hiran have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to speak with Israeli authorities and to live alongside Jewish Israelis. However it is clear that the motivation behind today’s demolition is purely political and that Israel is not honest in its talk of co-existence.
I urge you to contact Tobias Ellwood at the Foreign Office to request that our government make an immediate representation to Israel to stop the continued oppression of non-Jewish residents of Israel and specifically the evictions and demolitions in Umm Al-Hiran.
- Locals accused police of using excessive force to remove the protesters . Image: BBC News
Over the years ICAHD UK has distributed information about the threat to Umm Al-Hiran. We also provided platforms at public meetings for Khalil Al-Amour from Al-Sira, representing Adalah, and for Haia Noach from the Negev Coexistence Forum whom we also took for briefings at the FCO Recently we have highlighted information and a petition sent out by Haqal – Jews and Arabs in Defence of Human Rights.