On 7 Dec. 2011, FoEME staff, along with a number of local human rights organizations, visited and surveyed bedouin encampment sites scheduled to be demolished. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Occupied Palestinian Territories, provides an information sheet on the topic with fast facts and a detailed map.
During the past few years, Israel has repeatedly demolished Bedouin encampments in the Jordan Valley. This policy has produced a situation in which Bedouin communities live in constant fear that their housing structures will be destroyed, while also forcing them to rebuild anew after each subsequent demolition. In some cases, such as in the village of Al Araqib, Bedouin encampments have been razed nearly 30 times during the span of one year.
However, as problematic as this cycle of ongoing demolition-and-reconstruction has been, Israel recently drafted a new Master Plan for the Jerusalem Area concerning expropriating Bedouin lands: namely, the forcible transfer and removal of Bedouin populations from Area C of the West Bank to a nearby dump site. According to the newly-minted Master Plan, the Israeli Civil Administration — the body that governs Area C of the West Bank – will evict almost 30,000 Bedouins within the next few years.
Group discussion in a school in a Bedouin village
In the first phase of the plan, scheduled to begin as early as January 2012, the Israeli Civilian Administration seeks to relocate more than two-thousand Bedouin citizens to a dump site near Abu Dis. Not only would these families lose their land and grazing space, but the proposed relocation site also poses serious health and environmental concerns. Because the site is located adjacent to municipal dumping grounds, civilians living nearby are likely to suffer from negative health effects, reduced livelihoods, and a deteriorated quality of life.
Dump site near Abu Dis
If enacted, the forcible transfer of Bedouin Communities from the West Bank would constitute a grave violation of human rights and international law. As defined by the Geneva Convention, Israel’s role as occupying power in Area C of the West Bank requires that any transfer of civilian populations must follow international norms, including consent and freedom of choice. However, the new policy of forcible transfer violates these basic norms.
If you have any questions regarding the environmental hazards posed by the demolitions and forced relocations, please contact FoEME‘s Samiramis Kutlo. Further inquiries about the legal and humanitarian crisis involving the Israeli state’s policy towards Bedouin communities in the occupied West Bank, contact Eyal Hareuveni from B’Tselem – The Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.