Some 1,200 demonstrators gathered in the
southern village of Hura Saturday evening to protest a government plan to
resettle some 30,000 Bedouin residents of the Negev desert. Meanwhile, some 600
demonstrators protested in Haifa, where, according to police, some people threw
stones and tried to block roads.
The demonstrations were organized as part
of an International Day of Rage against the Law for Arranging Bedouin Settlement
in the Negev, more commonly known as the Prawer-Begin Plan.
The demonstration began peacefully at
around 3 P.M., but at around 4:30 P.M. things started riling up. The
demonstrators and the large police force – which included the Yasam special
forces unit of the Israel Police, cavalry and helicopters – began clashing. The
demonstrators threw stones, while the police used stun grenades, tear gas and
Some protesters claimed that it was the
police who started the clashes, only after which demonstrators began throwing
stones. However, not everyone agreed to this version of the events. “We did not
want the protests to turn violent,” one protester said at the site, “but there
were a handful of people who began throwing stones. We don’t ascribe to the
notion that the police are against the Bedouin,” he said.
After the clashes erupted, some
protesters began setting tires on fire, and Highway 31, at one intersection of
which protest took place, was closed to traffic. Four police were injured and a
number of police vehicles were damaged by stones, and dozens of protesters were
detained. Minors were apparently among them. According to police, about seven
protesters were arrested.
Additional demonstrations were expected
to take place in Israel and the Palestinian territories, as well as Berlin, The
Hague, Cairo and other cities around the world, after organizers spent weeks
drumming up support for a series of simultaneous rallies.
“The state treats us like an object that
can be moved from place to place,” Huda Abu Abed, a university law student and
activist against the plan had said prior to the commencement of the protest.
“They are denying us the basic right to decide our own fate, to decide where we
will live, what we will do with our property and our basic right to a home.” She
added that the activists would continue to protest non-violently along