The police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) cooperated in the aggressive oppression, including the use of gas-dropping drones, of a Bedouin protest against KKL’s political plantings. In what appears to be meant as a precedent, during and following the protest, 155 people were arrested, 60 of whom were minors, including a 10-year-old boy, and 6 people were questioned on alleged suspicion of “terrorist incidents”
A new report published by the Negev Coexistence Forum together with the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages, the Alhuquq Center and Sidreh Association, exposes the police violence in the demonstration organized by the Naqab’s Bedouin residents, held in January 2022. The report also exposes the combined activity of the police and the Shin Bet against a legitimate civil protest aimed at combating the government-led forestry initiatives with the KKL, taking place on Bedouin land in the Negev.
During a demonstration held at the entrance of the unrecognized village of Saʿwah on January 13 of this year, the police unwontedly arrested sixty minors, including a 10-year-old boy. The total number of detainees gradually climbed to 85, later to 96, and in a Y-net report from 25/1/2022 reached 150 people arrested. In addition, the Shin Bet detained and interrogated between 6 and 8 people as part of what they defined as investigating suspicions of “terrorist incidents”.
The police used tear gas-dropping drones at the demonstration in an unprecedented manner, as well as horses intended to run over and scare demonstrators. Numerous and detailed testimonies indicate that the police activity began in the first minutes of the demonstration and was not intended to allow the freedom of the demonstration, but rather to deploy massive force in order to suppress the protest and deter the residents from persisting in their demonstration.
The police’s pattern of action is disproportionate and does not reflect a reasonable action under the circumstances of the case, compared to their modus operandi in similar protests, including violent ones. The wholesale arrest, and in particular the mass arrest of minors, is intended to deter the Bedouins from legitimate protest activity. This, against the background of the government’s effort to demonstrate “governance”, and to perpetuate a planning policy that prohibits the establishment of recognized villages for Bedouins in the Negev-Naqab, while concentrating and overcrowding the existing townships and preventing the recognition of existing villages and depriving the Bedouins of land that was claimed.
On January 13, community members and activists protested against KKL’s works on lands that the local residents have filed ownership claims for which have yet to be debated. They encountered a violent and unprecedented police response.
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