buy zoloft online


Call for International Presence: High Court Hearing on Wadi al Qteyf Community (Sateh al Bahar)

Call for International Presence: High Court Hearing on Wadi al Qteyf Community (Sateh al Bahar)

Date: Monday, November 9th at 09:00

At: The Israeli High Court of Justice, Case number HCJ 8115\12  (Judges panel led by Chief Justice Miriam Naor)

Address: Kiryat Ben-Gurion, 1 Sha’are Mishpat St., Jerusalem


Attendance by international and local observers is requested


On Monday 9 November 2015, the Israeli High Court of Justice will hold a key hearing in relation to the forcible transfer of the Wadi Qteyf Bedouin community near Jericho.  The community are currently living in an area allegedly designated as a ‘closed military zone’ by Israeli authorities and are facing demolition of their structures which have been provided as part of an international humanitarian response. 

The community have petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to cancel demolition orders which were issued in 2012.  It is understood that the Israeli Civil Administration may propose that the community ‘relocate’ to the Nweima site near Jericho in return for a freeze on the demolition orders, pending approval of the Nweima plan. If the Court were to accept this arrangement, it would facilitate the forcible transfer of the community in violation of international humanitarian law. 

The community wish to remain in their present location and do not wish to be ‘transferred’.   International law experts have noted that the ‘relocation’ of a community in a coercive environment when the community has no real choice constitutes the offence of forcible transfer under international humanitarian law.  Recent reports have noted the frequent misuse of Palestinian land as ‘closed military zones’ by Israeli authorities. 


Background to the community

The Bedouin community of Wadi al Qteyf is located in the Jericho governorate next to the Sea Level lay-by on Highway 1 and is home to 13 families (15 households) who have lived permanently in their current location since 1982. The community have used the location as a seasonal migration stop-off since prior to 1948 and the areas constitutes part of the traditional territory of the Jahalin tribe of which the Wadi al Qteyf community are members.

The land of Wadi al Qteyf is reportedly owned by the waqf (religious endowment) as part of the Nabi Musa heritage site. The community reports that the military zone begins 0.5 km from the community and state that they are not located within its boundaries. The group is not registered with UNRWA as refugees.

According to latest information, the ICA has offered to  allow the community to build new structures at locations in the Nweima area near Jericho, in return for the non- issuance of any demolition orders against existing community structures until the Nweima plans are approved.  The Nweima plan remains pending with the Israeli Civil Administration following the lodgment of a large number of objections to the plan as as well as legal proceedings challenging the process leading to the plan.  During the upcoming session the Court will provide its opinion regarding this proposal. It is possible that the Court will accept the ICA offer, especially if it finds that the community are resident in a closed military zone.

Adv. Shlomo Lecker, who represents the Jahalin Bedouin, emphasises that it is practically impossible for Bedouin to build in a “lawful” manner and avoid the issuance of demolition orders. Throughout decades of military control of the area, Israel, as Occupying Power, has refrained from establishing mechanisms that would allow Bedouin residents to build lawfully as ‘protected persons’ in international law. Consequently the Bedouin live with the constant fear of demolition and evacuation from their homes.

Prohibition of forcible transfer under international humanitarian law

Under international law, the Israeli relocation plan may constitute an “individual or mass forcible transfer” of a protected civilian population under occupation.  Forced population transfers are considered grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention and a war crime under international law. The term ‘forcible’ is not restricted to physical force, but may include threat of force or coercion, or taking advantage of a coercive environment.  The international community has expressed its strong objections to the Bedouin relocation plan.  The UN Secretary-General has stated that the implementation of the proposed relocation “would amount to individual and mass forcible transfers and forced evictions” in violation of international law. IHL expert Professor Marco Sassoli notes that ‘The current plans to displace the remaining Bedouin communities would amount to forcible transfer under IHL if carried out.”

Recent research indicates a high level of misuse of Palestinian land as ‘closed military zones’ by Israeli authorities.  Whilst nearly one third of Palestinian land in the West Bank (1,765,000 dunams or about 436,000 acres) has been declared as closed military zones, approximately 78% of this land is not used for military purposes at all.  (Kerem Navot: A Locked Garden: Declaration of Closed Military Areas in the West Bank, September 2015).

For more information please call NRC on:  054-4384266

Invitation: High Court Hearing on Wadi al Qteyf community (Sateh al Bahar) November 2015

Cover photo: Members of the Jahalin tribe at Wadi al-Qatif (west of Jericho) given 48-hour eviction orders, April 30, 2014. Photo by Neal Badache.

[Haaretz] Tracking Terrorists and Smugglers Just Like the Bedouin Do

[Haaretz] Tracking Terrorists and Smugglers Just Like the Bedouin Do

This article was originally published in Haaretz – October 5, 2015 [Photo by Tal Shofman-Schejter]

By Judy Maltz

SALAMEH, Upper Galilee – Ziad Sawaid, a Bedouin tracker, bends down and draws a circle in the earth with his stick. After a brief examination, he rules: “It’s not the footprint of a goat. Not a human footprint either. This one belongs to a wild boar.”

The Bedouin’s legendary skills at sighting and deciphering imprints on the ground, often indiscernible to the average eye, are put to use in the Israeli army, where many Bedouin volunteers dominate the ranks of trackers patrolling the borders. Passed down from generation to generation and honed through years in the outdoors, this sixth sense has helped foil many attempts by terrorists and smugglers to infiltrate into Israel over the years…

Article continued on

[AP] West Bank Bedouin Fight Israeli Order to Demolish Homes

[AP] West Bank Bedouin Fight Israeli Order to Demolish Homes

This report and associated video footage was originally filed by AP Television – September 15, 2015

Video Link:
*English translation of Arabic footage available in the audio transcript. 

Bedouin children have a kick about in Abu Nuwar. But these football games may soon be a thing of the past. Israel’s Civil Administration (ICA) has drafted a plan to demolish houses in the community, saying they have been illegally built. Residents say they already face problems as a result of nearby Israeli settlements.

“Ma’ale Adumim settlement is to our north and Kedar settlement is from the south and from the east is a bypass road that connects Ma’ale Adumim and Kedar,” says Younes Hamadeen, an Abu Nuwar community leader.

“This road forms a barrier to our sheep from crossing and grazing and our kids cross this road with great difficulty to get to school in Wadi Abu Hindi,” he says. Hamadeen was born and raised in this community. He points out the areas under threat.

“I have a sewing room here and the kindergarten where we were sitting are all under a demolition order but with God’s help none will be demolished,” he says. Activists say the Bedouins are being relocated to make way for Israeli settlements.

“Israel is basically displacing people in order to expand its settlements and it’s expanding its settlements in this region more than anywhere else in order to take the whole of Jerusalem,” says Angela Godfrey Goldstein, an Israeli peace activist. But the authorities reject those claims and say the plans have been drafted as a result of talks with Palestinian parties. A UN agency says the Bedouin people must either be allowed to return to original land in the Negev desert or be able to build in the areas they now live. Nader Dagher, a UNRWA public information officer, lists the demands his organisation is making on behalf of these people. “Freedom to build, to develop their places, build homes, build infrastructure, build public buildings and to participate in the planing in these areas instead of attempting to transfer them to other areas,” he says.

An Israeli NGO that provides planning assistance to Palestinian communities in the West Bank has come to the aid of the Bedouins. BIMKOM has dispatched teams to draw up a plan to present to the Israeli authorities which takes into consideration the needs of the community. “At this stage we are practically conducting a full survey of the Abu Nuwar community in order to study and produce a preliminary plan for the community that addresses two points,” says Amal Zoabi, a planner.

“First, to prove that it is possible that they can remain in this community (continue living in this location) and to prevent transfer, of course, and to live in a way that meets their lifestyle’s basic requirements,” she says. The Bedouin are concerned they will be moved to an area where they can not herd their animals. But Hamadeen is determined to stay put in Abu Nuwar. “We were born here, we said it clearly that we are not going to abandon this place even if they demolish our homes once or twice. We’re not a state, we’re a people,” he says. “We are aware this is a state of occupation that controls the entire world, they are not afraid of Abu Nuwar community. But our weapon is resilience,” Hamadeen adds.

Authorities have earmarked land next to the Palestinian town of Abu Dis for the Bedouin. The land has been bulldozed ready for the Bedouin for when their current homes are gone. But lawyers acting for the community say they have secured an appeal and an injunction that prevents the Israel Civil Administration from carrying out demolitions. The Israeli High Court has given the ICA until 27 October to answer the objections raised. “The international community shouldn’t just be making statements, they should actually be doing much more so that Israel understands it cannot get away with this for its own good,” says Goldstein. “I speak as an Israeli, this is not healthy for us. We’re becoming an incredibly inhuman society, arrogant, careless, lacking in all the basics of Judaism,” she continues.

In a statement, the ICA says: “The Civil Administration is promoting a plan for regularising the communities of the Palestinian Bedouin, many of whom live in illegally built housing. The plan has been drafted after discussions and dialogues with the Palestinian interlocutors. The plan allocates to the Bedouin land that includes essential infrastructures such as electricity, water and sewage systems. It was formulated following meetings with delegates of the Bedouin population and takes into consideration the desire to preserve the traditional Bedouin lifestyle.”

There are more than 11,000 outstanding demolition orders in the West Bank, according to official data obtained from the Israeli authorities by the UN. 570 orders are ‘ready for execution’.

For corresponding video footage and additional details, please visit:

[+972 Magazine] In five-year high, Israel demolishes 143 Palestinian structures in single month

[+972 Magazine] In five-year high, Israel demolishes 143 Palestinian structures in single month

This article was originally published in +972 Magazine – September 5, 2015 [Photo by Oren Ziv/ActiveStills]

By Natasha Roth

Israel demolished 143 Palestinian structures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the month of August, the highest such total in five years, according to statistics released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Occupied Palestinian Territory (OCHA-oPt). The wave of demolitions has displaced nearly 200 Palestinians, many of them children. Some of the highest concentrations of demolitions occurred during a record-breaking heatwave that swept the country and displaced children are now starting their school year homeless

Article continued at +972 Magazine


[Mondoweiss] Caught between Jerusalem and expanding settlements, uncertainty hangs over residents of Abu Nuwwar

[Mondoweiss] Caught between Jerusalem and expanding settlements, uncertainty hangs over residents of Abu Nuwwar

This article was originally published at Mondoweiss – August 28, 2015 [Photo by Lydia Noon]

By Lydia Noon

The leafy city of Ma’ale Adumim lies 7 kilometres east of Jerusalem and is Israel’s newest tourist attraction. Palm trees lining the sidewalk offer respite on a hot August afternoon, buses driving the well-maintained roads serve Tel Aviv and beyond and a Library of Peace meets residents’ literary and moral needs.

Ma’ale Adumim is also the third largest illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, 4.5 kilometres east of the Green Line and next to the Palestinian town of Ezariya (Bethany). Dubbed the settlement that killed the two-state solution, it achieved city status in 1991. It lies at the heart of the Israeli government’s E1 project that seeks to connect Ma’ale Adumim with Jerusalem by building a corridor of settlements enclosed by the separation wall. It will effectively divide the West Bank into two and will be achieved by destroying 23 Palestinian Bedouin villages and transferring some 2,300 men, women and children into forced townships.

Most of the 40,000 settlers who live in Ma’ale Adumim will never set foot in Abu Nuwwar – a village under threat of demolition as Israeli officials also plan to link Ma’ale Adumim with Qadar settlement, within the limits of the E1 plan. They will not walk towards the tents and tin structures blowing in the hot breeze 100 metres away from the settlement fence. Nor will they drink tea with the families that I had the privilege to meet: the five-month-old baby gurgling while making his way across colourful rugs on his belly, 13-year-old Zeinab* who wants to be a lawyer so she can help people and the young man announcing his arrival with the words “I have grapes!”

Sponge Bob and Israeli number plates

Homes in Abu Nuwwar may look shabby from the outside but they boast kitchens, bright interiors, televisions and the odd Sponge Bob poster. Many families keep donkeys and chickens but the harsh terrain and ever nearing settlements make subsistence difficult. Shepherds herding goats and sheep struggle to find edible shrubbery months after the last rainfall and are not able to roam far. They used to sell the milk from their flocks in Jerusalem before they were denied access to the city. Even driving to West Bank cities can be problematic.

“We have Israeli number plates on our cars so we can’t go through checkpoints”, explains Zeinab. “The soldiers look at our cars then when they see we have Palestinian IDs we can get arrested”. Rather than shepherding, some men in the village now work in shops and construction in Ezariya and nearby towns. Women sew traditional Palestinian cushion covers to supplement their family’s income. Noor, a 61-year-old resident of Abu Nuwwar, explains that the finished covers are sold to a non-governmental organization in Ezariya that sells them on in Hebron. Each cover takes her a week to complete.

Ezariya is a hub for the community. Families go to the town for medical treatment, water and groceries and children make the one-hour round trip to elementary school in al-Jabal and high school in Ezariya.

E1 – a project of displacement

Abu Nuwwar residents are refugees, along with most of the Bedouin communities living near Ma’ale Adumim. Their tribe – the Jahalin – was expelled from the Negev in 1948 during the Nakba. After fleeing to the outskirts of the desert many families relocated to the West Bank where they registered with UNRWA and lived in villages near Jerusalem. They grazed and sold livestock in the busy trading route between Jerusalem and Jericho. The tribe’s fortunes changed in 1967 with the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, the annexation of East Jerusalem, settlement construction, ‘closed military zones’ and the resulting loss of freedom of movement.

The village that Noor was born in was demolished to make way for Ma’ale Adumim in 1975. “It was full of people and nice houses; there were no tents”. Life was much better then, but despite everything she still hopes to stay in Abu Nuwwar. “This is my home”, she says simply. Noor faces a second displacement and an imposed urban lifestyle – while the oldest members of the community will be forcibly removed from their homes for the third time.

Israel’s E1 development project was approved in 1999 but due to international condemnation it was put on hold. Noor explains that from 2005 the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) has been telling the 600-strong community that they will demolish homes. Since Palestine’s successful bid to become a non-member observer state in November 2012 and Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu’s retaliatory approval of 3,000 new settlement units in the E1 area, the project has gathered pace.

The Israeli army issued stop work orders in Abu Nuwwar on 6 August, a few days after Palestinian lawyer Tawfik Jabareen had begun representing the owners of 20 dwellings in the community. Members of the community were then invited to a ‘supervision subcommittee’ hearing to tell the Israeli Civil Authority why they shouldn’t carry out the demolitions. Tawfik’s request to postpone the hearing while he familiarized himself with the case was refused and the ICA handed out final demolition orders the following week.

“On 13 August they came and told us that they would demolish 30 structures here after three days”, says Ahmed, caretaker for Abu Nuwwar’s kindergarten. “But they didn’t come; they went to other villages like a-Sa’idi and abu-Falah instead”. Fourteen families were made homeless on 17 August in the E1 area.

Residents now have until 5 September to lodge an appeal with the Israeli Supreme Court. “We will go to court at the beginning of next week [commencing 31 August]”, says Tawfik. “It will then take many months before the court decides to go forward with the demolitions”. He will ask for a temporary injunction preventing demolitions being carried out on the homes of families he represents while the court deliberates. A second lawyer, Shlomo Lecker, is working on a small number of other cases in the village.

‘They could destroy everything’

In the midst of legal proceedings, uncertainty among the adults and children I meet is palpable.

“Soldiers often come to the entrance of the village, they look but they don’t come in”, says Fatima, a 45-year-young grandmother and sewing extraordinaire. “We don’t know which homes are under theat. Sometimes the authorities go over there and sometimes they come here. Maybe they will destroy my home”.

Noor lives in another part of the village – across from the access road leading to Qadar settlement and up a hill. She doesn’t think the authorities want to demolish homes on this side of the road. “But we don’t know exactly. Where do they want us to go?” asks the mother of eight, to nobody in particular.

Upon entering Abu Nuwwar’s kindergarten, Ahmed proudly points to new chairs and tables, still in their plastic and stacked up neatly near the two classrooms. The new school year starts on 26 August but the resident caretaker is nervous. “There have been demolition orders on the school for the past five months”, he says. In May European ambassadors visited the school, but this, along with the EU flag hanging from the roof, offers no protection.

“They [Israeli Civil Administration] first came in 1977 with demolition orders but they hardly ever carried out their threats”, says Ahmed. “Now every time we build something they say we can’t have it. They want us gone”. He manages a half-laugh. “They could come anytime and destroy everything”.

Buying time

The ICA intends to relocate members of Abu Nuwwar to al-Jabal where 150 families, some 2,000 people, from nearby villages were evicted to in 1997 when Ma’ale Adumim began expanding. The Area B town is next to the biggest landfill in the West Bank and many residents suffer from respiratory problems. ‘What do you think about maybe moving to al-Jabal?’ I ask 13-year-old Zeinab who holds out her hand as I struggle up a hill. ‘We can’t go there’, she says firmly. ‘It’s a big town and there’s nowhere for us to put our animals. We want to stay here’.

According to a joint UNRWA-Bimkom report published in 2013, the relocation of Palestinian Bedouins to al-Jabal thus far has resulted in “loss of social cohesion and is destroying the social fabric and traditional economic base” of these communities. The forcible transfer of Abu Nuwwar residents into this township will exacerbate existing problems. Officials are coercing individual families into accepting their offer of a small piece of land in al-Jabal by saying that there is not enough space for everyone there.

“I’m not optimistic”, says Tawfik Jabareen. “The Israeli Supreme Court rarely interferes with the ICA decisions on demolition orders. We know the final decision will not be in favour of the Palestinians. What we are doing is buying time while we wait for the political situation and Israeli policy on E1 to change. I don’t elude myself. We need a solution. We need to stop the demolitions”.

Turning away from curious children asking for my name I head back towards the entrance to Ma’ale Adumim where the sandy rock abruptly turns into lush, green grass and the unforgiving sun gives way to shade.

* The names of Abu Nuwwar residents have been changed for this article as they requested to remain anonymous.

Article link:

Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group Releases Statement on Forced Relocation of Bedouin

Statement Version Forced Relocation and Transfer of Indigenous Bedouin Populations- June 17th 2015:

This statement is based on a letter the Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group at the United Nations sent to the Permanent Representative of every Member State mission to the United Nations in New York on Wednesday 17th June 2015. The original letter was not footnoted, but for the purpose of clarity and accuracy, footnotes have been added to this version.

The Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group at the United Nations expresses its profound concern over the Israeli Government’s imminent plans to forcibly relocate or transfer Indigenous Bedouin communities in the Negev, in Israel, as well as in areas of the West Bank that are under exclusive Israeli jurisdiction, areas categorized by the Oslo Accords as Area C.[1] While the political realities in these locations differ, the legal repercussions faced by these Indigenous Bedouin communities are similar:[2] they face the forced relocation or transfer from their homes and the expropriation of their land by Israeli planning authorities.

We are troubled to learn that plans for the forced relocation of 1,000 Indigenous Bedouins of Atir and Umm-al-Hiran in the Negev have been approved by Israel’s Supreme Court and that plans to transfer Indigenous Bedouin communities in Area C, such as those of Susiya where 170 structures are threatened with destruction and 350 people face the loss of their homes, intend to go ahead.[3] The case of Umm al-Hiran and Atir sets an alarming precedent for the 70,000 residents of the 35 unrecognized villages in the Negev, and provides legal justification for the state to displace Bedouin citizens of Israel and dispossess the community from their land. In the West Bank an equally worrying trend is observed. In 2014, the Government of Israel demolished 493 Palestinian structures in Area C, resulting in the displacement of 1,215 Palestinians,[4] the highest rate of displacement in six years, most of which are Bedouin refugees who have endured displacement multiple times.[5]

The transfer of the Indigenous Bedouin communities in Area C, if implemented, may amount to individual and mass forcible transfer, which runs contrary to Israel’s obligations under article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law.[6] These actions will give rise to individual criminal liability and could result in a war crime, as legal experts have recently opined.[7]

Further, Article 10 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, states that people “shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories,” and notes that “no relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent” of the concerned populations.[8] As Indigenous peoples, the Bedouin of Susiya, Atir and Umm-al-Hiran enjoy these rights and they should be upheld.

In addition to these plans, Bedouin communities in both Israel and the West Bank who are subject to relocation and transfer plans, are being deprived of their ancestral land rights or have already been displaced from their lands, and live in increasing poverty due to being denied their traditional way of life through increasing restrictions or the complete prohibition of access to their ancestral lands. In the West Bank, these conditions are further aggravated by the relocation plans and the proliferation of Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.[9]

Evidence from our partner civil society organizations, who are active on the ground, indicate no prior consultation with the affected communities took place ahead of these plans. We are deeply concerned about these recent developments, and equally troubled by further plans to transfer up to 7,000 Palestinian Bedouins from 46 communities in Area C of the occupied West Bank.[10]

Our concern echoes those of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Mr. Makarim Wibisono, who on 5 June 2015, sounded an urgent call to action against the current plans of the Israeli Government, stating; “I am alarmed at indications that the roll-out of plans, which in their full effect are believed to entail the forced eviction and forcible transfer of thousands of people, contrary to international human rights law and international humanitarian law, now appears imminent.”[11] Like previous rapporteurs, Mr. Wibisono has thus far been unable to access the OPT due to a lack of cooperation on the part of the Government of Israel.[12]

In addition to setting a troublesome international precedent, such acts potentially incur state responsibility, including the obligation to allow humanitarian assistance, to provide appropriate remedies, and to ensure protection of the rights of Indigenous peoples. It is the responsibility of Third States to prevent this from happening and to avoid supporting any actions that are in contravention of international law.[13]

We call on the Permanent Representatives of Member State missions to the UN to urge the immediate cancellation of plans to relocate the Indigenous Bedouin population of Umm al-Hiran in Israel and plans to forcibly transfer Bedouins from the village of Susiya and other Bedouin communities in the West Bank such as those targeted by the E-1 Development Plan, the Nuweimeh Plan and Fasayil Plan, in order to expand illegal Israeli settlements.[14] These actions ultimately undermine the trust and confidence necessary to move towards peace.[15]

We respectfully ask that the Permanent Representatives of Member State missions to the UN:

1) Request that the UN Secretary-General publicly reiterates his serious concerns, found in paragraph 37 of A/67/372, that implementation of the plans as they stand would amount to individual and mass forcible transfers and forced evictions which run contrary to Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian and human rights laws;

2) Request that your capital, in accordance with Third State responsibility, issue a public statement that calls on Israel to freeze demolition orders and cancel transfer plans immediately and refrain from any actions that would support such plans; and

3) Urge your diplomatic presence in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Ramallah to pressure the Government of Israel to freeze demolition orders, to cancel transfer plans, and to provide a protective presence in communities at risk of demolition and forced transfer.

The Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group at the United Nations is a coalition of diverse organizations that have met since 1999 to share information and advocate for a just peace between Israel and Palestine.

Mr. Doug Hostetter and the Rev. W. Mark Koenig co-chair the working group.



  1. OCHA report that Susiya residents are at imminent risk of forced displacement – “all structures located in Area C have been served with demolition orders, which can be implemented at any moment. “ For more see:
  2. It is estimated that some 35 Bedouin communities in the Negev and 46 Bedouin communities in Area C currently face displacement and transfer. See, respectively, OCHA Fact Sheet, September 2014, pdf ; and Adalah’s response to Israel’s replies to the UN Human Rights Council on the Prawer Plan, September 2014;
  3. BTselem: Currently about 250 people live in Khirbet Susiya on a regular basis, and some 100 others live in it for part of the year, as their livelihood is seasonal.
  7. During a roundtable in January 2015, Marco Sassoli, professor of international law at the University of Geneva said: “The forcible transfer of a person within occupied territory is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel has to stop it. All states have an obligation to ensure respect for that prohibition. Forcible transfer within an occupied territory also constitutes a war crime. For a full public statement, see:
  9. See any of the following Security Council Resolutions S/RES/446, S/RES/452, S/RES/465, S/RES/471 and S/RES/476.
  15. As highlighted by the United States State Department in its response to a letter from concerned organizations on this matter, see:

UN officials urge Israel to halt plans to transfer Palestinian Bedouins, expand settlements

UN officials urge Israel to halt plans to transfer Palestinian Bedouins, expand settlements

Photo by UNRWA/Alaa Ghosheh

Originally published by the UN News Service – May 20, 2015

Two United Nations humanitarian officials with responsibilities in the occupied Palestinian territory have today expressed their grave concern over the Government of Israel’s “rapidly advancing plans” to transfer Palestinian Bedouins in the central West Bank from their current communities.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, James W. Rawley, and the Director of Operations in the West Bank for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) , Felipe Sanchez, released a joint statementthat recalled a report of the UN Secretary-General from March this year, drawing a link between the proposed transfers and illegal settlement expansion and warning that the move would breach the Fourth Geneva Convention and violate human rights.

“History has shown us that these transfers have not proven to be in the interests of the Bedouin communities,” said Mr. Sanchez. “This would represent a continuation of developments that commenced in 1997 when Palestine refugees were loaded on trucks and taken to the same urban site in Eizariya, after which an illegal settlement was constructed on their former land.”

On 28 April, residents of Abu Nwar, in Area C of the West Bank, where Israel retains control over security, planning and building, were informed that some families would have to move to the Al Jabal area outside of East Jerusalem. Area C accounts for over 60 per cent of land in the West Bank and is home to an estimated 300,000 Palestinians.

According to the joint statement, the plan to move the families comes amid a discriminatory zoning and planning regime that facilitates the development of illegal Israeli settlements at the expense of Palestinians, for whom it is almost impossible to obtain permits for construction. A total of 70 per cent of the land is off-limits to Palestinian construction, with heavy restrictions on 29 per cent and just one per cent zoned for Palestinian development by the Israeli Civil Administration.

“Israeli practices in Area C, including a marked increase of demolitions and confiscations of donor-funded structures in the first quarter of 2015, have compounded an already untenable situation for Bedouin communities,” said Mr. Rawley.

The Bedouins currently living in Abu Nwar are one of 46 Palestinian Bedouin communities – most of whom are refugees – who are slated for transfer to three proposed “relocation” sites, with the Israeli authorities claiming that Bedouin communities lack title over the land and that “relocation” will improve their living conditions.

The communities are subject to eviction and home demolitions as the area in which they live has been allocated for the expansion of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement – the so-called “E1 Plan” – and the joint statement warns that the forced urbanization of Bedouin communities in the three relocation sites would destroy their culture and livelihoods.

“There is also concern over the strategic implications of these plans,” said Mr. Rawley. “Many of the communities are located in areas slated for further Israeli settlement, including the E1 plan, which has long been viewed as an obstacle to the realization of a two-state solution.”

Mr. Sanchez stressed the obligations held by Israel as occupying power to ensure the wellbeing of such communities and to respect international law.

“We are fast approaching the point of irreparable damage,” he said. “I strongly urge the Israeli authorities to halt all plans and practices that will directly or indirectly lead to the forcible transfer of the Bedouin and call on the international community to support the Bedouins’ wish to remain where they are, pending their return to the Negev, and prevent this transfer from occurring.”

Original article link:

A march from Negev to Jerusalem in bid to recognise Bedouin villages

A march from Negev to Jerusalem in bid to recognise Bedouin villages

Originally posted by Middle East Eye — March 26, 2015

By MEE Staff

The head of Israel’s third largest political party Ayman Odeh began a four-day walk on Thursday from the Negev desert to Jerusalem in order to bring attention to the issue of unrecognised Bedouin villages.

Odeh has long campaigned for the rights of the Bedouins in the desert, where there are as many as 40 unrecognised villages that are not connected to the state’s electricity or water grids and lack basic infrastructure.

“The existence of unrecognised villages, which have no water, electricity, schools or institutions is not just a stain on the government but a continuous crime and tragedy,” Odeh said. “These villages existed before the creation of Israel by decades. I decided to walk from the Negev to the Knesset before the formation of the new government to emphasise the priority of the issue and the depth of the ongoing crime.”…

Article continued here:

West Bank Bedouins fear ‘a second nakba’

West Bank Bedouins fear ‘a second nakba’

Originally published by Al Jazeera – March 25, 2015

By Lena Odgaard

Abu Dis, occupied West Bank - In the middle of a small campsite consisting of two tin shacks, a group of men and women huddled around a fire burning in a barrel – oblivious to the gathering rainclouds and the Israeli military jeeps and soldiers surrounding the camp.

On the side of one of the shacks, the words “Bawabet al-Quds” – Gateway to Jerusalem – were spray-painted in big red and green letters…

Article continued at:

Nabi Samwil – A Village Trapped in a National Park

Nabi Samwil – A Village Trapped in a National Park

Originally published by Emek Shaveh


The Nabi Samuel National Park is one of the largest national parks in the West Bank. The antiquities site and religious center located on the grounds have become a key tool in the struggle against the residents of the Palestinian village of a-Nabi Samwil. Since most of the village lands have been declared a national park, and the site of the original homes, destroyed in 1971, has been turned into an archaeological tourist attraction, the future of the village, now relocated slightly to the east of its original location, is in danger.


The village of Nabi Samuel, in Arabic, “a-Nabi Samwil,” is located north of Jerusalem and outside of its municipal boundaries, at a distance of one kilometer north of the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem. The locality occupies an area immediately adjacent to the archaeological site of the same name, and rises 890 meters above sea level. To the northeast of the site is the Palestinian village of Al-Jib, to the northwest, the settlements of Giv’at Ze’ev and Giv’on, and to the west, the village of Beit Iksa. The original village of a-Nabi Samwil was built on the hilltop, around the mosque and the grave attributed to the prophet Samuel.

The location of the village atop the hill enables a broad vista in all directions, and control over all of the main roads leading from the coastal plain to Jerusalem. Throughout history, the site has been considered a strategic military position, a fact true till today. In the 11th century, the Crusaders first viewed Jerusalem from Nabi Samuel on their way to conquer the city. During WWI, decisive battles were fought between the Turkish and British armies, and in the War of Independence, the Palmach tried (and failed) to conquer it on the night of April 22, 1948.

Until 1967, over 1,000 people lived in the village. Most fled during the Six Day War. In 1971, the village was demolished by the IDF and its residents were evacuated to an area near the hill, east of the heart of the site.[1] Today, some 250 residents live there. In 1995, the site was declared a national park, with an area of approximately 865 acres (3,500 dunams).

The park boundaries encompass the archaeological site, the residents’ homes, and agricultural lands that belong to them, spanning many hundreds of acres. From a legal standpoint, the Civil Administration is responsible for the site, and the archaeological excavations are carried out by an officer from the administration’s archaeological headquarters. Responsibility for the Nabi Samuel National Park rests in the hands of the Nature and Parks Authority. According to the Oslo Agreements, the site is designated as part of Area C.

Archaeological Significance of Nabu Samuel

Already in the earliest archaeological studies of Palestine, the question arose as to whether the site should be identified with the Biblical settlement of “Mitzpah,” described as the location where the prophet Samuel gathered the people (I Samuel 7: 5-6).[2] This association has not been proven to this day, as remnants from the 11th century BCE, the time of the prophet Samuel, have not been found at the site.

In archaeological excavations carried out on location during 1992-1999 by the Head of the Archaeology Department of the Civil Administration, it was discovered that the site was first settled in the 7th century CE. Remains from a large settlement from the Hellenistic period (4th-1st c BCE) were also found. From the Byzantine period (5-6 c CE), a large production house and residences were excavated. The production house and residential community remained in existence during the early Muslim period (8th-10th c). The main findings, and most prominent among the remains, are a fortress and trench from the Crusader period (12th c). During the Mamluk Period (13-16th c) and the Ottoman period (16-20 c) the site continued serving the Muslim residents. A mosque was built there, and the village developed around it.[3]

The remains of the Palestinian village are built upon the earlier layers. Excavations have been carried out now and then at the site in recent years by the Archaeology Department of the Civil Administration. A complete report of the results of these excavations has not yet to be published.

Traditions and Beliefs

The Jewish, Muslim and Christian traditions identify Nabi Samuel as the burial place of the prophet Samuel. The testimony of Jewish and Christian pilgrims tells of pilgrimages to, and worship at, the traditional location of the grave for centuries. Muslim sources of the 8th-10th centuries (al-Muqaddasi) also attest to the existence of a settlement and worship at the site. The earliest traditions about the Prophet Samuel’s burial at this site can be traced to the Byzantine period, a tradition that probably became firmly established during the Crusader period. As mentioned previously, when Jerusalem was conquered by the Crusaders in 1099, pilgrim soldiers arrived at Nabi Samuel, and it was from there that they first viewed the city.[4]

Since that time, Christian tradition has referred to the location as the Mount of Joy (Mons Gaudi). From the Crusader Period onward, Jews made pilgrimages to pray there. During the Mamluk period, a mosque was built at the site. In the 18th century, Jewish prayer was prohibited at the site, and prayer there was permitted only for Muslims.[5]

Today, the basement level of the mosque houses a Jewish prayer area, in which a separate women’s section has also been designated. Muslim prayer takes place at the entrance level. Tradition views Samuel’s grave and the nearby spring, known as Hannah’s Spring, as having healing powers for women experiencing infertility.

Presentation of the Site to the Public

The main usage of the site is for Jewish and Muslim prayer. The secondary use is for tourism. Entrance to the site is free, but it is under construction due to development work that will turn it into a site with an entrance fee. The course through the site is concentrated in the area of the mosque and the archaeological excavations surrounding it. The information sheet handed out at the entrance depicts remains of the fort, the trench, and structures from ancient periods, mainly from the Hellenistic period (2 CE). The descent to Hannah’s spring lies on its northern side; the spring is located in a tunnel that emerges from an ancient burial cave carved out of the rock (apparently from the Early Roman Period). Bordering the excavation area from the north is a Muslim cemetery, which belongs to the village and is enclosed by a fence. The information sheet includes historical quotes only from Jewish and Christian sources. The Muslim story of the place does not appear, with the exception of the history of the mosque. There is no reference to the history of the Palestinian village and its fate, even though its remains are visible in the field and they are better preserved than earlier remains.[6] The quotes are interspersed in the description of the ancient remains, and visitors receive the impression that the site is important to Jews and Christians only.

Antiquities and Residents

In recent years, as stated, archaeological excavations have been carried out at the Nabi Samuel antiquities site. Like the excavations carried out in the 1990s, some of the remains are structures and installations from the destroyed Palestinian village, built on top of earlier remains. Some of the excavators are themselves residents of the village. In the paradoxical situation that resulted, in order to make a living, residents are excavating their own original village and removing some of its last remnants. The residents are working together with archaeologists to build a tourist site at the location.

While the IDF destroyed the village in just one day, the excavations are carrying on slowly, under the guise of scientific activity. They constitute an important component in converting the site into an active and exciting tourist attraction. It can be assumed that the village was not demolished in order to promote an archaeological agenda, but out of the IDF’s aspiration to control a strategic location that overlooked the West Bank and north Jerusalem. Today, however, the excavations and the tourist site are obviating any possibility of the residents ever returning to their village.

The National Park and the Residents

In September 1995, the State of Israel, as mentioned, declared an area of some 865 acres as a national park.[7] The declaration was based on the protection of flora, in this case, Mediterranean forest, and on the importance of the antiquities at the location. A number of springs emerge in the park, some of which are accessible to visitors. Despite declaration of the site as a national park, construction of the Separation Wall in 2005/6 divides the declared park area.

The National Parks Law and the declaration of the site as a national park create a situation in which the lands remain in the possession of their owners, but any activity in the declared area requires the approval of the Nature and Parks Authority and the Archaeology Department of the Civil Administration. Activities such as new construction, adding to existing buildings, cultivating agricultural lands and shepherding require permission from the Antiquities Authority and the Civil Administration.[8] Usually, such requests are refused, on the grounds that they threaten to damage the national park and the antiquities. For example, a temporary goat pen, donated by the French government and erected on developed land, is today slated for demolition (see attached photo), and residents who planted olive and fruit trees on their private lands received written orders to uproot them (see photographed documents). In effect, the protection of archaeological sites and the national park prevents residents from conducting their lives in a reasonable manner, even though most of their activities do not involve harm to the antiquities or to the unique flora.

The Antiquities Law and the National Parks Law make it almost impossible to appeal the decisions of these authorities using legal instruments, since the law views legislation pertaining to the protection of antiquities and nature as the exclusive jurisdictional realm of the Antiquities Authority (or the Archaeology Department of the Civil Administration, where relevant) and the Nature and Parks Authority.

The area of the antiquities site is approximately 7.5 acres. Despite this, the Nature and Parks authority declared an area 100 times this size as a national park, based on its unique flora and Mediterranean landscape. A visit to the national park clearly attests that there is almost no flora on these lands – certainly no unique Mediterranean flora. As far as we understand, with the exception of the archaeological site, there is no justification for declaring the site a national park. For the sake of comparison: the area of the national park surrounding the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City is some 250 acres; the area of Sebastia National Park in the West Bank is approximately 60 acres; in Ein Gedi, to protect the ruins of the ancient synagogue unearthed there, only two acres were declared a national park.

From these examples, it is clear that there are places where residency and livelihood for the residents can be integrated with protection of the landscape and the antiquities.

That’s the problem – that you live in the most beautiful place

‘Eid Baraqat, resident of the village, who was a child at the time of the eviction in 1971, returned to live in his father’s house in 2006, after living for nine years in the villages of al-Jib and Beit Iksa. He knows that residents will not be permitted to return to their homes in the area of the antiquities, but he thinks that at least they should be allowed to build on their lands. The picture he paints clearly reflects how Israeli policy leaves the villagers with no options: they are prevented from entering Israel and working in Jerusalem because they are considered West Bank residents; on the other hand, access to the West Bank, and even the nearby villages of al-Jib and Beit Iksa, requires lengthy travel on bypass roads.

“Nowhere in the world have I heard of a prohibition against planting trees on your own land. I know that it’s forbidden to cut trees down, but planting?” says ‘Eid, in response to the orders he received to cut down the fruit trees he planted on the private lands in his ownership. ‘Eid tried several times to make use of the land in his possession near the entrance to the antiquities site in order to earn his livelihood. He opened a car wash, which was closed by the Civil Administration; a paid parking area that he established was also closed. The opening of stores and even vending carts selling food, souvenirs and drinks is forbidden. ‘Eid claims that he wants to apply for a business license, but past experience indicates that the Civil Administration and Nature and Parks Authority have no intention of allowing it. In other words, the opportunity to take advantage of the last remaining resource, i.e. tourism, is also denied to the residents.

The combination of the employment problems and prohibition against building leads most of the young people to move to the village of al-Jib and to other localities in the West Bank. To ‘Eid’s understanding, the vista from the village and the place’s religious importance have become a threat and obstacle in the lives of the residents: “That’s the problem – that you live in the most beautiful place.”

The Israeli Presence

The influence of the Israeli presence at the site began in 1971, when it was decided to evict the residents from the village and demolish their homes. The site’s location, approximately one kilometer north of Jerusalem, and convenient access from the city, make Nabi Samuel accessible to thousands of Israeli prayer-goers and visitors. Most are ultra-Orthodox visitors who come to pray at the prophet’s grave. During holidays and anniversary occasions relating to Jewish sages (“hilula” celebrations), such as the anniversary of the death of the prophet Samuel, which takes place in the spring, thousands of prayer-goers visit the site. The “Shmuel Ha-Navi Yeshiva” was established at the entrance to the national park, and uses a temporary building (a caravan) for its needs. A military outpost, enclosed in a concrete wall, stands between the entrance to the Palestinian village and the antiquities site and includes a military antenna and cameras.

Apart from the Civil Administration, responsible for civilians in Area C, including the residents of Nabi Samuel, the most significant Israeli presence in terms of the residents’ lives is the declaration that their lands are a national park (see section The National Park and the Residents, above). A Jewish settler, who claims to be the owner of some of the lands, resides at the southern end of the village. The residents tell of ongoing clashes between them and the settler, every time one of them passes by.[9] The separation wall, built in 2005/6, partially within the boundaries of the national park, and the blockage of roads that lead directly to the villages of Beit Iksa and al-Jib, make connection to the West Bank even more difficult than it has been in the past.


A-Nabi Samwil is a village in danger of forced dissolution and abandonment. The exodus of young people, lack of employment, the National Parks Law, and the difficulties that the authorities heap upon the villagers, leave no hope or possibility for development of the village.

From an historical perspective, a-Nabi Samwil is a relatively small antiquities site, with a non-continuous settlement over a period of some 2,500 years, from which the main findings are the remnants of the fortress and the mosque. The Israeli authorities combine the archaeological site with religious tradition, and grant freedom of worship to Jews and Muslims.

Although, ostensibly, freedom of religion is not impinged, an unbalanced picture of Jewish-Arab coexistence is created. This lack of balance manifests in the fact that the Muslims were forcibly evicted from their homes, they are not allowed to build and develop their village, their legal status is unequal to the status of the Israelis, their part in the history of the site is barely mentioned, and their presence is confined almost solely to the prayer that takes place at the mosque. In the situation created, the antiquities and the archaeological excavations, which constitute a significant portion of the erasure of the Palestinian identity of the village, promote the site as a tourist and religious center, without exposing the visitor to the complex story of the place. Ironically, those advocating for development of the archaeological site at the expense of the Palestinian villagers are preserving Palestinian historical memory unwittingly, since the archaeological ruins that they insist on leaving intact include many remnants from the destroyed village.

A-Nabi Samwil is not the only village whose residents were evicted because their place of residence coincided with an archaeological site. There was a similar case in Susiya, in the South Hebron Hills,[10] and recently, the Civil Administration asked the residents of a minor ruin in the South Hebron Hills to leave their homes, based on a similar claim.[11] The case of Nabi Samuel is unique, however, since it is the first village in the West Bank where the Israeli authorities evacuated residents and demolished houses in order to turn it into an archaeological site. It is also the most marked case of the inclusion of extensive village lands into a national park under the National Parks Law, without any accompanying satisfactory professional substantiation.

It appears, from the description of the residents’ lives and the behaviour of the military government construction supervisors and the Nature and Parks Authority rangers, that the State of Israel views the Antiquities Law and Nature and Parks Authority Law as a tool for expanding its control on the ground, perhaps for purposes of expanding Israeli territory north of Jerusalem and creating contiguous Israeli presence between Jerusalem and the settlements of Giv’on and Giv’at Ze’ev. The residents are viewed as an interfering nuisance not necessarily to the nature, antiquities and flora, but to the political goals of Israeli policy.


The recommendations presented here are based on the understanding that destruction of the village is a fait accompli, as is the conversion of the site into an archaeological and tourist site. In addition, any proposed solution is temporary, until a political solution is devised which must accompany the proposed recommendations.

The residents must be allowed to build and expand their homes in the developed areas in their ownership. The construction of animal pens, the planting of fruit trees, and the creation of paths can take place in the many areas that have no antiquities or endangered flora.

Residents must be allowed to develop businesses in the village alongside the antiquities site.

Nabi Samuel is a place of Jewish prayer and tradition, as well as Muslim tradition. Both sides have stated that there is almost no religiously based friction, due to the respect for belief and religion. Strengthening the status quo by emphasizing the religious importance of the site can lower the tension between the sides and enable them to live in respect until a political agreement is made between Israel and the Palestinians regarding the site.

The area declared as a national park must be reassessed and reduced to the minimum extent.

The village of a-Nabi Samwil must be presented to visitors, both on the information sheet and on the site’s signage.

Tourist development of the place must involve the village residents and enable them to enjoy the economic opportunities presented by tourist traffic.

Development of infrastructure for the archaeological site must include development of infrastructure for the village.

Development of the site and the manner in which it is presented to the public must take place in coordination with village residents.


[1] United Nations General Assembly, 67th session, Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, September 14, 2012, Paragraph 46.

[2] V. Guérin, Descriptions of Eretz Israel, Judea (3), Yad Ben Zvi, 1985, p.3 (in Hebrew).

[3] Y. Magen, M. Dadon, “Nabi Samuel,” Qadmoniot 118, 1998, pp. 62-77, and Y. Magen, M. Dadon, “The Grave of Samuel the Prophet,” Ariel 105-106, 1994, pp. 25-29 (both in Hebrew).

[4] Y. Elitzur, “The Source of the Tradition regarding Nabi Samuel,” Katedra, 31, 1984, pp. 75-90 (in Hebrew).

[5] Ben Dov, Yoel, Nabi Samuel, HaKibbutz Ha-Meuhad, 2006, p. 86.

[6] Nabi Samuel National Park Information Sheet, Har Shmuel, Mount of Joy, Nature and Parks Authority.

[7] The date of declaration is based on telephone conversations with the Nature and Parks Authority, after a search of government listings turned up no reference to a date for declaration of the national park.

[8] National Parks, Nature Reserves, Historical Sites and Monuments Law (1998).

[9] For example: during the Emek Shaveh delegation visit on May 22, 2013, while we were walking along the dirt road that passes by the settler’s house, a man, approximately 60 years old, came towards us, and demanded, yelling, cursing and threatening, that we remove ourselves.

[10] Y. Mizrachi, “Susiya,” in National Heritage Sites Project in the West Bank, Emek Shaveh, 2011.

[11] A. Hess, “Reason for Destruction of a Palestinian Village: Built on a Minor Archaeological Site,” Haaretz, July 27, 2012.

Article Link: