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Protests keep Israel’s bulldozers away from Bedouin village
Residents of Umm al-Hiran, a Palestinian Bedouin village in present-day Israel, could have their homes demolished at any moment. On Monday, the Israel Land Authority announced that the state would begin demolishing the village – located in the southern Naqab (Negev) region – the next day. The 24-hour notice was abrupt. But it did not come as a surprise. The people of Umm al-Hiran have been braced for the destruction of their homes throughout this year. In January, Israel’s high court rejected their last-ditch effort to appeal against the planned demolition of their village. The Israeli authorities want to build a Jewish settlement – named Hiran – in its place.
In preparation for the bulldozers, residents of Umm al-Hiran began dragging their furniture out of their homes on Monday night. Families stripped down their beds, cleared out their refrigerators and pantries, stuffed their belongings into plastic bags and folded their clothes into suitcases, as the below video shows:
Many political activists arrived in Umm al-Hiran on Monday night to spend the night with the villagers to bear witness to the demolition. The Israeli authorities decided against dispatching their bulldozers. By late morning on Tuesday, the crowd was informed that the demolition had been postponed. In a Facebook message, Adalah, a group campaigning for Palestinians in Israel, credited the large presence of support in the village and around the world for delaying the demolition.
The crowd briefly celebrated when they learned that the village had been spared. But the relief was temporary. Israel’s intentions appear clear. During the summer, Israeli bulldozers began ploughing a trench around the village, marking those homes slated for demolition. The Israel Land Authority – a state agency – has hired a private contractor to conduct the demolition at the cost of 119,000 shekels ($30,000). The agency has presented villagers with an invoice for that sum – in effect, making them pay for the destruction of their own homes. The current demolition order is valid until the end of November, so bulldozers could arrive any day this month.
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