Arab Israeli group vows to rebuild destroyed Bedouin homes
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Arab Israeli group vows to rebuild destroyed Bedouin homes

Oversight committee plans national demonstration, protest motorcade to Jerusalem, in support of condemned, unregistered Negev village

Arab Israelis hold protest banners against the demolition of homes in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, January 19, 2016. (Courtesy)
Arab Israelis hold protest banners against the demolition of homes in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, January 19, 2016. (Courtesy)

The High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel decided Thursday on a series of protest actions against the violence and the destruction of homes in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran.

A gathering of the oversight committee for the country’s Arab communities met in the Bedouin town of Rahat, deciding on a national demonstration, a rolling protest convoy to the government district in Jerusalem, and the rebuilding of homes already torn down in the community.

The committee decided on the measures the day after violent confrontations in the the Negev village of Umm al-Hiran during which a policeman was killed when a vehicle, driven by a local man, ran into cops during pre-dawn clashes with residents. Police had arrived in the community to carry out the court-ordered demolition of buildings and, amid protests that continued throughout the day, 12 homes were leveled.

Among the planned measures are a national demonstration that will gather on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in northern area of Wadi Ara, the committee said.

On Monday, a motorcade will start at 9:00 a.m. in the Arab town of Qalansawe in central Israel and from there head to the government quarter in Jerusalem finishing up at the Knesset building.

Israeli policemen stand guard as bulldozers demolish homes in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev desert, on January 18, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)
Israeli policemen stand guard as bulldozers demolish homes in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev desert, on January 18, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

The committee also vowed to rebuild the homes demolished in Um Al-Hiran and urged continued protests in Arab towns and villages around the country as well as joint Jewish-Arab demonstrations.

Thursday saw the Arab Israeli community hold a nationwide strike over the Umm Al-Hiran dispute at the request of the Follow-Up Committee.

The Follow-up Committee has also announced a three-day mourning period for Abu al-Qia’an, committee chair Mohammad Barakeh told Army Radio Thursday morning.

Police officer 1st Sgt. Erez Levi, 34, who was killed in an alleged car-ramming attack at Umm al-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Courtesy)
Police officer 1st Sgt. Erez Levi, 34, who was killed in an alleged car-ramming attack at Umm al-Hiran, January 18, 2017. (Courtesy)

Wednesday’s fatal incident occurred when Umm al-Hiran resident Yacoub Mousa Abu Al-Qia’an drove into a group of police carrying out a demolition order against homes in the unrecognized Negev village, killing policeman Erez Levi, 34, from the city of Yavneh in central Israel.

Abu Al-Qia’an was shot and killed by police.

His family said Thursday that police have said they will only return his body if the funeral is held in the Bedouin town of Hura, Channel 10 reported. The family has refused and is demanding his remains be returned without preconditions.

Police have accused Abu Al-Qia’an of jihadist sympathies and called the ramming “terrorism” and “murder.” Residents and activists opposing the demolition orders rejected the accusation and insisted Abu Al-Qia’an was shot by police before the ramming, and was not in control of the vehicle when it slammed into Levi and other officers.

Yaqoub Mousa Abu al-Qia’an (Courtesy)
Yaqoub Mousa Abu al-Qia’an (Courtesy)

Police surveillance videos from the scene did not definitively resolve questions over the fatal incident.

Police demolished a dozen structures in the village in accordance with a 2015 Supreme Court ruling that the village was built on state land and its Bedouin residents had no legal rights to it, though the state had originally moved them onto the site decades ago.

Hundreds of people took to the streets in Tel Aviv and other locations across Israel on Wednesday to protest the government-ordered demolition. In Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa, Nazareth and Qalansawe hundreds of protesters gathered to demonstrate against “the bloodshed and the destruction of homes in the Negev.”

Israelis attend a protest against the recent demolition of Bedouin homes in the village of Umm al-Hiran outside the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on January 18, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
Israelis attend a protest against the recent demolition of Bedouin homes in the village of Umm al-Hiran outside the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem on January 18, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
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