Days of Palestine

Wednesday, February 8

Israel starts replacing Arab town with Jewish one

Days of Palestine -

Israeli occupation police arrested five people protesting the impending displacement of Umm el-Hiran, an Arab village in Al-Naqab, where Israel plans to build Jewish town, reports said on Sunday.

Among the detainees were youths from the village, and former Rabbis for Human Rights President Rabbi Arik Ascherman. All of them were released late Sunday night. Another woman was hospitalised for injuries she sustained from police.

Police arrived with a tractor and several surveyors to the village on Sunday in order to start building a fence adjacent to the Bedouin villagers’ homes, presumably in order to begin construction of the Jewish town, Hiran, meant to replace them.

Umm el-Hiran is one of dozens of so-called “unrecognised villages,” in which approximately 100,000 Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel live without electricity, water and other basic services Israel refuses to provide.

Here is a quick summary of this history of Umm el-Hiran: Long before the establishment of Israel, members of Abu-Qi’an family lived in an area called Khirbet Zubaleh.

In 1956, the Israeli military government forcibly moved Abu-Qi’an family to the location where they live today as their former land was given to the Jewish Kibbutz Shoval as agricultural land.

This forced displacement is well documented in Israeli archives, but despite the fact that Abu-Qi’an family was settled in its current location by the Israel itself, its homes have never been connected to the electricity or water grids.

Last year, Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that the state can change its mind and take back the land it gave to Abu-Qi’an family. In place of their current village, Umm el-Hiran, from which they are to be expelled, a new township for religious Jews will be established.

‘Racism and injustice’

For the past few years, Jewish Hiran’s future residents have been waiting for their new homes at an encampment in the adjacent forest of Attir.

“The government has no problem with Jewish citizens living on this property – so why should they have a problem with us?” Raed Abu-Qi’an, a resident and activist from the village, told +972 last year. “They allow rural communities to be built for Jews across Al-Naqab– why not us?”

“We have always said, and continue to say, that we have no objections to Jewish families living here or nearby us – but not in place of us. That is racism and injustice,” he added.