For years now Nuri ElUqbi and his tribe have been struggling in the public and judicial domain against the state of Isael. In the early 1950s the Uqbis were expelled from their land in El’Araqib (north of Beer Sheba), and the land was expropriated using discriminatory legislation. For three years now Nuri has been living on his ancestral land in El’Araqib, and from there he leads his struggle for the return of the Uqbis to their historic place.
The peaceful protest is ill received by the authorities. Ever since Nuri returned, he has suffered from numerous harassments, such as demolition and confiscation of his tents, threats made at him, arrests and physical assaults. Lately, the actions against Nuri escalated. The JNF (Jewish National Fund) carries out ground works and plantations on the land while at the same time the district court in Beer Sheba discusses the ownership of the land.
Nuri’s attempts at stopping the activities of the bulldozers were reacted with violence by the Green Patrol that accompany the JNF. Last week Nuri was arrested and held for interrogation three times by the police. On Wednesday, 06/05/09, he was beaten until he lost consciousness by a Green Patrol inspector by the name of Gad Biton, and was hurried to Soroka hospital for treatment. The next day the JNF hired bullies from a security company, one of them armed with an Uzi submachine gun. This person threatened Nuri to shoot him in the head when Nuri was photographing the tractors working on his land. On Sunday, 10/05/09, two Green Patrol inspectors limited Nuri’s freedom of movement by holding their hands around Nuri. (See video).
On Monday, 11/05/09, Nuri was pushed again by the same Gad Biton, and returned to hospital because of pain in his back and legs. He was released from hospital after a few hours in which he was treated with pain killers, and a recommendation for continuing treatment in a clinic.
Nuri’s sin is his persistence on the right to protest against the injustice done by the government. If he looses, and the violence of the government wins, it is also the loss of the struggle for a democratic character for the Israeli society.
We hereby call all the parties involved: Stop the violence against Nuri ElUqbi!
In 1949, after the war, the majority of the Uqbis were expelled to Jordan. In 1951, those that were left, were driven out with lies and false promises. They were kicked out to Khirbet Hura, in the military government domain of the Negev. That hamlet lacked municipal services, water or electricity. The tribe’s leaders were given a promise that they will return to their land in six months. This promise was not kept. After three years the state declared the land as fallow land and registered them for the benefit of the development authority (read: confiscation). On part of the land an exclusively Jewish locality called Gvaot Bar was established. Other part is forested with the Ambassadors’ Forest. This forest is expanded to cover the remaining land of El’Araqib.
There is an ongoing public and legal struggle on the ownership of the lands.