‘The Prawer-Begin plan is a blatant example of Israel’s discriminatory policies towards its Palestinian minority. It must be dropped immediately’ - Philip Luther
The Israeli authorities must avoid using excessive force on demonstrators planning to protest against a plan to forcibly evict tens of thousands of Arab Bedouins from their homes in southern Israel, said Amnesty International.
Citizens across Israel are organising demonstrations for a “Day of Rage” tomorrow (1 August) to oppose the “Prawer-Begin plan”, an Israeli government proposal to forcibly evict more than 30,000 residents in the Negev desert. Amnesty is calling on the Israeli government to scrap the proposal.
On 15 July peaceful protests against the plan were met with excessive force by Israeli riot police and border police forces. During the demonstrations Israeli police forces attacked peaceful demonstrators and carried out violent arrests in Be’er Sheva, in the Negev, in Sakhnin in the north of Israel, and in occupied East Jerusalem. Many demonstrators were injured and dozens of others - including women and children - arrested.
For many Palestinian citizens the Prawer-Begin plan evokes the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the late 1940s and early 1950s, in events referred to as the "Nakba", or catastrophe.
The Prawer-Begin bill passed its first reading in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) on 24 June but has not yet become law. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has condemned the plan and warned against the legitimisation of forced displacement of Bedouin communities in the Negev. Despite this, the Israel Land Administration has continued to carry out repeated demolitions of homes and livelihood structures in the Bedouin villages.
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther said:
“The Prawer-Begin plan is a blatant example of Israel’s discriminatory policies towards its Palestinian minority. It must be dropped immediately.
“The use of excessive force by the police during the 15 July marches sent a dangerous signal about how little Israel respects the rights of its Palestinian citizens. The Israeli authorities must ensure that peaceful demonstrators are able to express their opposition to the plan free from intimidation or violence.
“Rather than using excessive force against peaceful demonstrators calling for a discriminatory plan to be scrapped, Israel should listen to its citizens and respect its international human rights obligations.”
Since the beginning of the year more than 140 Bedouin homes have been demolished by the Israeli authorities in the Negev. Most recently the village of al-‘Araqib was destroyed on 16 July. The village had already been demolished more than 50 times in the past three years. More