Bedouin face expulsion to make way for settlers
The 1,500 members of the Jahalin bedouin tribe are the casualties of an accelerated government plan to strengthen a ring of Israeli settlements encircling Jerusalem. On a hilltop overlooking a wadi, where 16 families of the Abu Ghalia section of the tribe live, construction workers and bulldozers are working on homes for an extra 30,000 settlers before Jerusalem's status is determined in negotiations.
Within the past month a hillside has been levelled and covered with half-built homes. Suleiman Mazara, a member of the Jahalin, says: "We refuse to go and live by the rubbish dump at Abu Dis. Humans cannot survive there. We have certificates from doctors that it is an unhealthy place. It is rocky and there is nowhere for the bedouin to put their tents." At the same time the Abu Ghalia clan have difficulty staying where they are, as Maale Adummim now covers hillsides where they once grazed 300 goats.
The Jahalin are determined not to go until they get somewhere else to live. The tribe says it moved to the parched and then vacant hills between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea in 1950, when it was under Jordanian rule, after being forced to leave traditional lands at al-Arad, near Beersheba, in the Negev desert.
Turfa Abu Ghalia, 77, recalls: "The police gave us three days to move. Then soldiers came and attacked the tribe and frightened us, so everybody ran. We left our tents and took only our flocks."
Construction of Maale Ad- ummim started in 1978. It has become the largest Israeli settlement on the West Bank. A dormitory suburb for Jerusalem, its buildings are deserted during the day. As it expands, the Jahalin in their tents and shacks are being submerged. Villagers say blasting to clear the site for a school overlooking their camp sent a rock crashing through a tent roof.
The Jahalin see themselves as victims of a campaign of harassment. Mr Mazara says that last November "at about 4am a friend came to where I live to say the police and soldiers were arresting people. They tried to arrest Turfa Abu Ghalia but she resisted and we ended up having to take her to hospital. They took the men to Maale Adummim police station."
On Monday the tribe was jubilant after a High Court judge gave a stay of execution on an eviction order. But the tribe's rejoicing may be premature: their encampments look like islands amid construction machinery and half-built houses.
Turfa Abu Ghalia says she would like to go back to the Negev. "All we want is a place where we will have our children and our animals and where we will be left alone."
Jeremy Paxman reveals he has heard senior Tories calling activists 'swivel-eyed loons'
Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
Strewth mate. Aussies wave goodbye to Britain as it becomes too pricey to stay
X marks the spot: The find that could rewrite Australian history
Oklahoma tornado latest: Obama pledges support for 'as long as it takes' to rebuild the suburb of Moore
- 2 Austerity has hardened the nation's heart
- 3 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 4 X marks the spot: The find that could rewrite Australian history
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
£200 - £250 per day: Progressive Recruitment: Java Developer- £200-£250 London...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent benefits, inc bonus & healthcare: Progre...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Bens: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opportunit...
Negotiable: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BI Specialist - Contract - 6 Months -...