Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The last of the Bedouins

""The government used force against us, they detained people, demolished houses, fined us and nothing helped," said Aqil al-Talalqah, 66, a retired headmaster who now lives in a tent in Twayil, only a few hundred yards from the demolished two-room building where he once went to school as a child. "They say we are invading state land. How are we invading state land? This is our land."

A leading international human rights group yesterday accused the Israeli government of discrimination against the bedouin, citing a sharp increase in housing demolitions and a "systematic violation" of their land and housing rights.

The detailed 126-page report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) comes as a new government-appointed commission begins a study on the long-running land ownership dispute. The Goldberg Commission, appointed by the housing ministry but without any representatives from the unrecognised villages, is due to report later this year.

Tens of thousands of bedouin - Arabs who have lived a semi-nomadic life on the land for many generations and who all carry full Israeli citizenship - live in 39 "unrecognised villages" in southern Israel where their homes are subject to frequent demolition." (Thanks Anna)

Everywhere in the Middle East, the Bedouins are marginalized and oppressed. They have lost their historical fight with the settled and their way of life is gone, probably forever. They have become tourist attractions, praetorian guards or slum dwellers. But only one country has a state policy to oppress the native: Israel.

No comments: