Amidst the occupied West Bank, a surge of demolitions instigated by the Israeli occupation has unleashed a fierce storm upon Bedouin communities. This spate of destruction, coupled with the forced removal and irreversible displacement of these communities’ residents, has ignited a pressing and contentious issue.
In the past few months, the Israeli occupation authorities have systematically demolished five Bedouin communities: Ain Samia, Al-Qubun, Ras al-Tin, Al-Marj, and Al-Baqa’a. These demolitions have forced families out of their homes and shattered their lives.
Bedouin Communities: A Vulnerable Population
The West Bank is home to approximately 154 Bedouin communities, housing an estimated population of 200,000 people. These communities are primarily situated on the eastern slopes of the West Bank, overlooking the Jordan Valley. Their unique way of life and livelihoods have been endangered by the recent demolitions.
According to Awad Abu Samra, an activist, the Israeli occupation has been attempting to clear out vast stretches of land, extending from Nabi Musa village in Jericho to Ain al-Bayda near Beit Shean. The objective seems to be to gather the Bedouin residents into a centralized “cage-like” community, effectively increasing control over their movements and livelihoods.
The plight of these communities is exacerbated by daily attacks from Jewish settler groups, particularly extremist “Hilltop Youth” and herders. These attacks involve physically assaulting Bedouins, vandalizing agricultural fields, stealing livestock, and even ransacking homes. These actions generate fear and terror among the Palestinians, affecting their daily lives.
Choked Resources and Military Zones
To add to the challenges, the Israeli occupation imposes closed military zones around these Bedouin communities, restricting their movement and access to basic resources such as drinking water. The occupied areas are even turned into military training camps and firing zones, contributing to the overall instability and insecurity faced by the Bedouin residents.
Bashar al-Qaryouti, another activist, has pointed out that the policy of seizing land in an unlawful manner targets long-standing practices of sheep grazing and tent set up by Palestinian citizens. This tactic is used even when the Jewish settlers are aware that the land belongs to neighboring villages, but hasn’t been officially registered. The settlers exploit this situation through intimidation, theft, and destruction of property.
The Jordan Valley, in particular, has become a hotbed of settlement activities, leading to daily targeting of pastoral lands and Bedouin communities. The settlers, often supported by the Israeli government and extremist settler groups, implement a pastoral settlement project that seeks to gain control over the land and maintain a presence in the area.
Building infrastructure such as roads is a way for the Israeli occupation to establish its dominance. The Israeli settlers depend on the security provided by the occupation forces because of the unstable situation in the West Bank. This leads to retired army settlers taking part in forcing out Palestinians, seizing land, and damaging the environment.
The situation in the West Bank’s Bedouin communities remains complex, with ongoing demolitions, displacement, and Israeli settler attacks creating a cycle of fear and instability. The international community continues to closely watch the developments, urging for a peaceful and just resolution to safeguard the rights and well-being of these marginalized communities.