A Bedouin man stands nearby as Israeli forces destroy his family house in the neighborhood of Beit Hanina last month
Several thousand Bedouin demonstrated on Sunday outside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, protesting over a plan they say will displace tens of thousands of people from their land. © Str - AFP
A Bedouin man stands nearby as Israeli forces destroy his family house in the neighborhood of Beit Hanina last month
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AFP
Last updated: December 11, 2011

Israel Bedouin protest over relocation plan

Several thousand Bedouin demonstrated on Sunday outside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, protesting over a plan they say will displace tens of thousands of people from their land.

The demonstrators came from Bedouin communities across Israel, gathering outside Netanyahu's Jerusalem office holding signs reading "We are staying here" and "No to the Praver Plan."

The plan, approved by the government in September, is supposed to address the problem of unrecognised Bedouin villages in the Negev desert of southern Israel.

The government says it will help the Bedouin better integrate into Israeli society, but the proposal was formulated without any consultation with the community, with rights groups slamming it as a major blow to Bedouin rights and warning it would forcefully uproot tens of thousands from their land.

In October, several thousand Bedouin joined a similar demonstration in Beersheva, with Bedouin villages and towns observing a general strike.

The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, which represents Arab communities in Israel, has described the so-called Praver initiative as a "disaster" which would have "dangerous" consequences.

There are around 160,000 Bedouin in Israel, most of whom live in and around the Negev desert.

More than half of them live in unrecognised villages without municipal services like water and electricity, and much of the rest also live in extreme poverty.

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