Leader in Israel’s Bedouin Arabs a group of 200,000 citizens, called for acts of civil disobedience against the efforts by the government to resettle the population that is traditionally nomadic, after demonstrations over the weekend turned violent.
Police arrested over 40 protesters and used water cannons and stun guns to quell the demonstrators. However, authorities worry that it will galvanize the resistance of the group to the proposed resettlement law, said Taleb Abu Arar, a member of parliament and a Bedouin.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minster has vowed to continue with the Prawer legislation and said the rioters will be prosecuted.
Abu Arar said he and other Bedouin’s have warned the Israeli government that the force involved in the law was not acceptable and he called on all Bedouins to not respect the new legislation.
The plan would move thousands of the Bedouin from their unauthorized, impoverished village and encampments on landed owned by the state, across the desert into other towns that have electricity, water services and sewage that many currently do not have.
Abu Arar says that the Bedouin own a great deal of the land area Israel took when established in 1948 and should have the right to maintain their nomadic traditions.
The legislation reflects the concerns amongst some government officials that the group is taking over Negev, which is more than half of the land mass of Israel.
Bedouins distrust the motives of the government and say it is only trying to reduce their desert footprint. The previous attempt by the government at urbanizing the Bedouins, with the clan and tribal line networks, resulted in the founding of seven towns that to date are amongst the most impoverished in Israel.
Some 1,000 demonstrators blocked roads near Hura on Saturday protesting the plan for resettlement. Some of the demonstrators threw firebombs and rocks at nearby riot police.
There were also protests in Jerusalem and another 20 locations. In all 40 were arrested and 15 police were slightly injured.
Doron Almog, a general who is retired is coordinating the policy of the government toward the Bedouin. He told reporters that Israel is making a step-by-step approach to moving the Bedouin into new homes and said the rioting was extremists who do not represent what is the majority of the Bedouin.