Recent weeks have seen a spate of angry protests by the Bedouin minority in both Jordan and Israel. On Jan. 4-5, thousands battled security forces in the southern Jordanian city of Maan, in the third major incident of Bedouin unrest in the Hashemite kingdom as many months. Protesters torched government buildings and police vehicles after the killing of two Bedouin men. Authorities said the men died in a clash between rival clans over a water project, suggesting Muslim Brotherhood agitators exploited inter-tribal tension to fuel unrest in Maan province. They said at least 37 were arrested. (World Tribune, Jan. 6)
Amnesty International launched an urgent appeal in November to prevent Israeli forces demolishing a Bedouin village in southern Israel. The rights group said residents of al-Araqib village face forcible eviction and the destruction of their property for the seventh time since July. The residents are Israeli citizens, and one third of them are children.
Israeli forces continue to demolish homes in the area, destroying villagers’ attempts to rebuild, Amnesty said, noting that a nearby mosque was destroyed in recent days. On July, all 40 homes in al-Araqib village were destroyed and 300 residents evicted. The raid came after an Israeli court found the village had been illegally built on state land. The Bedouin residents say they have proof of their land rights, and have been in court for several years. At least 200 children have been left homeless by the evictions. Fruit orchards and olive grove trees were also destroyed. Israeli activists who were present at the initial demolition described the move as an “act of war, such as is undertaken against an enemy.”
The village has been rebuilt and destroyed several times since the start of last summer—most recently on Oct. 13, when the entire village was demolished. The UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination have both expressed concern over Israel’s policy toward its Bedouin population. In July, UNHRC called on Israeli authorities to “respect the Bedouin population’s right to their ancestral land and their traditional livelihood based on agriculture.” (Maan News Agency, Nov. 12)
On Nov. 7, police clashed with Bedouin in Rahat city as authorities demolished the mosque in the Negev city, which had been condemned as illegally constructed. Residents began rebuilding the mosque hours after its demolition. (Maan News Agency, Nov. 7)