18/1/2016. Clashes broke out in Umm al-Hiran as the village was forcibly evacuated this morning. Tear gas and rubber bullets were used by Israeli police forces to evacuate residents. Two people were reportedly killed and another five were injured. MK Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, suffered a head injury from a rubber bullet and was rushed to Soroka Hospital in Beersheva. Yaqoub Abu Al-Qia’an, a teacher with the Ministry of Education, was killed in the clashes. Israeli forces are accused of using excessive force to remove the Arab citizens from the village. After a thirteen-year legal battle, the Israel Supreme Court authorized the demolition the Bedouin village to make way for a Jewish only community.
Residents were first expelled by the Israeli government from their land in Khirbet Zubaleh, which their families had lived on for generations, and were subsequently forced to move from place to place until they were resettled under IDF orders in Atir/Umm al-Hiran in 1956. Despite being settled by the government Umm al-Hiran never received official recognition. The state originally claimed villagers were illegal trespassers in Umm al-Hiran. The Supreme Court determined in 2015 that the residents were not trespassing, but ruled against the villagers’ claims to Umm al-Hiran and determined that the village lies on state lands. As a result, the villagers have no legal standing to stop the demolition. The state offered to move the villagers to the Bedouin community of Hura, but Umm al-Hiran residents are dubious of Hura’s poor infrastructure, unwillingness to accommodate the villagers’ needs, and low quality of life. Residents of Umm al-Hiran requested to be included in the future town of Hiran but the state refused as the town is planned to be Jewish only. Approximately 1,000 Arab citizens will be displaced for the fourth time by the demolitions in Umm al-Hiran.
The demolition of Umm al-Hiran is another example of the Israeli government repeatedly displacing Bedouin communities in order to settle Jewish populations. In the 1950s, the Israeli government forcibly resettled Bedouin communities in Negev and refused to recognize the newly established villages. This policy has resulted in decades-long legal battles as Israel denies basic services to Bedouin communities, threatens villages with demolitions, and evacuates Arab citizens to make way from Jewish communities.
We hold The Israeli courts and government responsible for the killing in the unrecognized village of Atir/Umm al-Hiran. The government is using this racist court decision to implement a policy of home demolitions and violence against Arab citizens not only in Umm al-Hiran but across the country. The violence seen today shows that Arab citizens are seen only as the enemy and that police feel they can use violence with out fear of repercussions from the Police Internal Investigation Unit.
The Mossawa Center calls on the international community, Embassies in Israel and foreign governments to condemn police violence against Arab citizens and the Israeli government policy of home demolitions in Arab villages. The intervention of international leaders is needed to put a stop to these racist and violent policies. We call on International governments to take action to prevent further violence and to push for the recognition of unrecognized Arab villages. Arab citizens have the right to housing, and the international community and its leaders must act now to protect Arab citizens from human rights violation by the Israeli government.
Protests are taking place through out the day at the following locations:
Hebrew University - Jerusalem - 12:00
Tel Aviv University – 13:30
University of Haifa – 14:00
Ben Gurion University – Beer Sheva – 14:00
The entrance to Umm al Fahem – 16:30
The entrance to Qalansawa – 17:00
Shfamer area – Naama Junction – 17:00
Akko Area – Ayadia Junction – 17:00
Tel Aviv area – King George and Sderot Ben Zion – 19:00
Haifa area – The German colony – 19:00