Sunday, February 12, 2012

Amnesty Calls for End to Forced Relocation

Just this past Friday, Amnesty International again called for Ehud Barak to end the forced relocation of more than 20 Bedouin communities to a site near the municipal waste dump of Jerusalem.  Nearly 2,300 Bedouins would be affected by the move.  Amnesty points out that this isn't the first relocation, and goes on to describe the living conditions Bedouins would face in their new neighborhood:

Israel forcibly moved Bedouin families to the same area in the late 1990s, placing homes as close as 150 metres to the garbage dump. Bedouin who live there have told Amnesty International that the site was unsuitable to their way of life, that they had had to sell off their livestock due to a lack of grazing areas, and that they suffered high rates of unemployment. Some have returned to the areas from which they had been displaced.  

According to the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection, the dump receives up to 1100 tons of garbage per day, most of it from Jerusalem.  The ministry has stated that the dump site creates air pollution, ground pollution, and possible water contamination, is improperly fenced-off, and poses a “danger of an explosion and fires” due to untreated methane gas produced by the decomposition of garbage. 

The Bedouin, while having little or no contact  with Israel authorities about the plan, explained to Amnesty that they reject any plan to relocate, claiming that not only would the standard of living decrease, but that the Bedouin communities would be unable to practice their traditional way of life in the proposed location.

Israeli authorities have said the relocation is a matter of health and safety, particularly access to electricity and water. Amnesty has questioned the validity of that claim:

Israeli officials have emphasized that the displacement plan envisions connecting relocated Bedouin communities to the electricity and water networks. They have not explained why Israel can provide such services to illegal settlements and unrecognized settler outposts in the West Bank, but not to longstanding Bedouin communities. 
The water rights issue is dire, not only in the West Bank, but in the Naqab as well.  Amnesty makes a powerful argument about infrastructure, and some Bedouin groups are claiming Israel is violating international laws prohibiting racism. Stay tuned for that in my next posting.

In the meantime, read the full article and find Amnesty's report here:


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