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Israeli police raid Umm al-Hiran as residents fear more demolitions on the horizon

March 2, 2017 5:09 P.M. (Updated: March 2, 2017 9:49 P.M.)
NEGEV (Ma’an) -- Israeli police forces raided the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev region of southern Israel on Thursday afternoon, in what residents feared was preparation for the delivery of more demolition orders against homes in the village.

Local sources told Ma’an that residents have been expecting Israeli police to deliver demolition orders to remaining homes in the village ever since the January demolition raid in which a Bedouin resident and a police officer were killed and 12 homes were demolished.

Local committee head Raed Abu al-Qian told Ma’an that Israeli police and Israeli government officials toured the village and several homes, seemingly in preparation for a raid.

“Israeli attacks and demolitions will not scare us, but still I call upon the Arab public and leaders to intervene to make a better future for our children. I call upon everyone to not make Umm al-Hiran an easy prey for the monsters,” al-Qian said.

An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment on Thursday's raid.

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages, including Umm al-Hiran.

Most Bedouin villages were established in the Negev soon after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war following the creation of the state of Israel, when many were forcibly transferred to the village sites during the 17-year period when Palestinians inside Israel were governed under Israeli military law, which ended shortly before Israel's military takeover of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967.

The issue of home demolitions in Israel has been in the limelight since the beginning of the year, notably due to the outrage caused by the demolitions in the town of Qalansawe and the deadly demolition raid in Umm al-Hiran in January.

The spike in home demolitions in Palestinian-majority areas of Israel has come after Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem reached a record high in 2016.

In December, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video to address settlers of the Amona outpost, assuring them that he would commit to “enforcing laws” on “illegal construction” in Israel, referring primarily to Palestinian communities that are often forced to build without Israeli-issued building permits, due to what rights groups have attributed to discriminatory zoning policies in Israel which have excluded many Palestinian-Israeli communities, notably Bedouins, from being included in the regional and municipal development plans.

Rights groups have claimed that the demolitions in Bedouin villages is a central Israeli policy aimed at removing the indigenous Palestinian population from the Negev and transferring them to government-zoned townships to make room for the expansion of Jewish Israeli communities.

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