BEERSHEBA, (PIC)– Tension prevailed throughout Umm al-Hieran village in the Negev desert, in southern 1948-occupied Palestine , following the Israeli National Council for Planning and Building’s decision to expel the village’s residents in order to establish a new settlement for the Israeli extremists.
The so-called Israeli National Council for Planning and Building (NCPB) rejected a few days ago the objection made by a human rights institution on the behalf of the residents of Umm al-Hieran village against a decision by the District Planning Committee to approve the Master Plan and build “Hiran”, a new town for Jewish families to be constructed on the ruins of Umm el-Hieran, home to 1,000 residents in 150 families.
The Israeli army had expelled residents of Umm al-Hieran from their original homes in the Khirbet Zubaleh area in the Negev desert, and shortly thereafter, in 1956, the residents were forced by the Israeli authorities to move to the area where the village is located now.
In 2004, the villagers faced a new threat of expulsion, when the District Planning Committee revealed a plan to again expel the residents of Umm el-Hieran, who were relocated to the village in 1956 by state authorities, to establish a new town for Jewish families.
It should be noted that between eighty and ninety thousand Bedouins live in southern occupied Palestine in 1948 within the unrecognized villages.
As a result to their unrecognized status, the Israeli authorities assumed that the village could easily be demolished at any time without receiving any basic services from the state, including electricity and paved roads, health care facilities, schools and water.
In the wake of the decision, Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara stated that the policy conforms to State’s policy of confiscating Arab Bedouin land in the Naqab, demolishing the villages, and forcing residents to move to crowded and severely limited townships. The Abu el-Qi’an case is consistent with this policy, whereby the tribe was expelled from its land and Jewish residents were given their land in 1948, and then later, they were expelled again, she said.
The lawyer told Quds Press that the Committee’s decision assumes that the residents of Umm el-Hieran, who were relocated to the village in 1956 by state authorities, have no right to their village, and that the State can easily move them from place to place without any justification or need for a plan for them. The decision entrenches a discriminatory policy of segregated housing, based on national, religious and ethnic separation, and infringes on the citizens’ constitutional rights to dignity, property, and equality.
Prior to 1948, the villagers lived in Khirbet Zubaleh, located in Wadi Zubaleh, which is now part of Kibbutz Shuval. In 1948, the Israeli Military Governor in the Negev ordered the residents to leave their village and their homes and move to the area of Kharbet el-Hazil, and then again to Kohli and Abu Keff. In 1956, they were again displaced to Wadi Atir, where they have remained until today. The villagers were then given 7,000 dunums of land to live on and cultivate, and they built houses of brick and cement, making great effort to recreate the community that had been disrupted with each forced displacement. Now 150 families, 1,000 people, all of the Abu al-Qian tribe, live in Umm el-Hieran, the lawyer explained.
The mayor of the village Salim Abu al-Qian said that the Israeli authorities aim to expel them under the pretext that the construction is illegal “, and therefore deprived them from all basic services even water to force them to leave.
We swore to die on this land and not to leave this time as in previous times, he said.
The mayor described the Israeli decision as a racial decision that will lead to a confrontation with the residents of the Negev in case the occupation authorities decided to forcibly evacuate.
Abu al-Qian condemned the naming of the new Israeli settlement as his village’s name in an attempt to steal the Palestinian history and geography in the Negev and to prove the old Israeli presence in the region.
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