Demonstrations against the Prawer Plan

Monday 15th, thousands of people all over Israel joined in demonstrations against the violent and inhumane Prawer Plan that would evict 30,000-40,000 Arab Bedouins from their homes and land, destroying their communal and social fabric, condemning them to a future of poverty and unemployment. The Plan also calls for the demolition of about 40 villages and the confiscation of more than 700,000 dunams (70,000 hectares) of land in the Naqab (Negev). The so called resettlement plan was approved by the government in January and by the parliament in June. Two more votes are expected.

Demonstrations took place in different places, with thousands of people gathering in Jerusalem, Sakhneen, Um El-Fahem and Beer El-Sabe’. Demonstrators blocked the roads, carried Palestinian flags, posters and shouted out messages such as “No more Naqba!,” “No to the Prawer- begin plan!” “Don’t make me homeless!”

1069864_354077711388681_1420646889_nPeaceful demonstrations turned in most of the places to violence when police forces started to throw smoke bombs into the crowd, capture them and beat them with bats. This provoked some demonstrators to throwing stones at them. Overall more than 30 people got arrested and approximately 50 people injured.

820452-01-08https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1hew3G8pfkM (3 min video from protest in the Jerusalemm)

I witnessed the protests in Umm el-Fahem, where approximately 500 people took part. Blocking the road, carrying the flags, posters and shouting out messages like in the  other locations.

1002126_498117686920235_1648391338_nDuring the demonstration I asked observers what they think about such act and which emotions it brings. I wished to hear from both sides. There were various answers.

Most Israeli Arabs felt proud and happy that their thoughts are being said out loud and spread over the country. For them it was a small victory, a chance to show to Israel that Palestinian minority consist of proud people who are not afraid to defense their rights and fight against the injustice.  Though they were still worried that this one time act does not change the Prawer- Plan, they were confident that this kind of demonstrations are necessary and may start further discussions.

I also asked how do they feel about the general Israeli Jewish attitude against them? All of them said that though there are many friendly Jews, majority of them still don’t like Israeli Arabs and try to discriminate and suppress them through different laws.

I managed to ask from few Jews also. They had a bit different opinion of what is going on. Some of them said that they don’t understand why Israeli Arabs are protesting, “they have everything they need for life and since the Prawer Plan is government decision, it is illegal to protest against it.”

After talking to one Israeli Arab I wished him a peaceful and happy life. He answered to me: “ What is peaceful and happy life? Can we ever have happy life without our land? Without our freedom? With our homes demolished and our friends evicted from their houses? Can we feel peaceful when we are discriminated in our own land? There will be no happiness until we are free from the occupiers!”

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Here is a fragment of the message about the Prawer Plan.

Naqab you are the base, with you we will stop Prawer!

Naqab you are the will, rise the voice of awakening!

Raise your voices young people, everyone has declared a strike!

My people has decided, my people are free!

People join us, land of the Naqab is precious to us!

The daughters of Naqab is calling for you!

From Naqab to the north, we are people who do not know fear!

Prawer is out and the Arab land is free!

With protest we will not let Prawer past!

Prawer leave, the land of Naqab will not submit!

Enough settlement, enough demolition

The ending of Haq Youth movement season in Saffuriyya

Last Friday was the ending of Haq Youth movement season. To show the appreciation HRA organized a short fieldtrip to the Saffuriyya village with a picnic, singing and handing out diplomas. All the facilitators, their group members and mentors were invited, bringing together about 100 enthusiastic and active young people.

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Day started with a trip to the Saffuriyya village. Until the 1948 Saffuriya was a Palestinian village with about 4000 people, who lived their quiet and peaceful life. This all changed in the 1948 when Israeli forces attacked and bombed the village, forcing everybody to go. All the residents of the Saffuriyya lost their homes and were forced to leave their lands. It was a sad sight to see. Empty land with some ruins to remind the fostering life that once was there.

Here is a picture of Saffuriyya village, before and after the Israeli attack.

SaffuriyyaCOMBINED_bodyMany Saffuriyyans still want to return to their lands, but they are forbidden to do so. Only Israeli Jews are permitted to live there. Therefore all the beautiful and new houses you can see before entering the village, belongs to them. Now they are trying to do the same with the Arab Bedouins (more about it from this article: http://arabhra.org/HRA/SecondaryArticles/SecondaryArticlePage.aspx?SecondaryArticle=2134). If this kind of behavior is not unhuman and clearly against human rights, then what is?

After listening the guide, it was time for activities. We played different games to get to know each other and drew posters about Palestine and the Haq movement. We also sang national songs about Palestine. I didn’t understand the words, but I saw the mixed emotions they were causing.  I saw the overwhelming pride of these youngsters, being high-spirited about being a Palestinian, being proud about their culture and heritage.

Aside from that, I also felt sadness. Sadness about the Palestinians who are forced out from their lands, to make room for the Jews. Sadness about the restrictions they have to face, while being under the Israeli power. This is also how I see Palestinians in general, proud about their heritage, but at the same time feeling sadness about the losses and discrimination.

At the end of the day, all facilitators and their group members were given diplomas to show HRA’s appreciation about their effort and work. Within every organization, it is important to show to your workers, especially to the volunteers that their presence and work is noticed and valued.

Since there were so many people, I didn’t have the chance to get to know everybody, but the ones I did were all very welcoming and kind. I think this kind of attitude also describes the Haq Youth movement as general. Active group of youngsters who want to make a difference, working together to bring hope and raise the awareness about Palestinians rights, at the same time being kind and welcoming to all the people they meet.

Thank you HRA and Haq Youth movement for this fun day!

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