The Israeli cabinet has given the go-ahead to a plan authorizing the expulsion of tens of thousands of Bedouin Arabs from the Negev desert where they have lived for generations.
The plan, known as the Prawer plan, will leave about 30,000 Bedouin from 13 villages homeless as Tel Aviv moves to confiscate more Arab land.
Rights groups have criticized the Israeli cabinet for approving the plan, saying it "includes the forceful evacuation of thousands of Bedouins from their homes."
Israeli officials, however, claim that the plan aims to relocate thousands of Bedouins living in ”unrecognized villages” in Israeli towns and that those who can prove they own the land will receive alternative land or compensations.
The Bedouin have rejected the plan, saying Tel Aviv’s efforts to resettle them in towns and villages go against their traditional way of life. They have also said that they had not been consulted over the plan.
Shortly after the Israeli cabinet approved the controversial plan on Sunday, nearly 150 Bedouins from unrecognized villages in the Negev gathered in front of the Prime Minister’s Office to protest against the plan.
Israeli lawmaker Adalah called the plan "a declaration of war on the Bedouin in the Negev."
”This stupid government will be responsible for the Bedouins’ intifada in Negev," said Talab al-Sana’a, a member of the Israeli parliament.
The Bedouins say they have lived in the area since before the creation of Israel. But Tel Aviv now claims to be the owner of their land and that their land is reserved for agricultural use.
Israeli soldiers frequently attack Bedouin villages in the Negev desert and raze down their homes. More than 150,000 Bedouin live in Israel, mostly in and around the Negev.
Nearly half of the Bedouin live in villages that are not recognized by Israel and they have no access to municipal services like water and electricity.
Rights groups have repeatedly called for the Israeli government to stop the demolition of the homes of Bedouins.