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Who wants to set fire to the Negev?

By Haia Noah
translated by Dena Shunra

No state representative is getting involved in the irrational saga rolling over the backs of children and people whose rights have been trampled, people forgotten by the welfare authorities. Despite the demolitions, no representative of the state in charge of citizens welfare comes to examine the goings on. Haia Noah calls the state to order following the destruction of the village of Al-Arakib.

Published on the Y-net news portal, 9 August 2010
The very same scenes replay, again: again a convey of police cars swoops down on some tabernacles made of wooden poles and covered with plastic sheeting, green or black, the only refuge in the Northern Negev from the sun and the hot and somewhat hellacious weather. After the Bedouin village of Al-Arakib was demolished a week before, great forces came again last week to destroy. To destroy everything.

Again the women huddle in the remote area, and the line of men facing the policemen. Again the crying of the children and the shouting of the women, and again the arguments made by the men to the policemen. Again it is the same state clerk who orchestrates the horrific activity, claiming that the evacuation is being done lawfully. And again old Ismail asks: what sort of law is that? What law? He stands guard over the generator, to keep it from being taken as well. And another woman, whose tears mingle with the Negev dust, shouts in despair, throat parched: is this a state?
Yes, again it is the few against the many, against better odds in police forces, and the YASAM, the special police forces, and the policemen are tough and have no mercy. As if this were a natural cycle which must occur, a force of reality.

The horrific thing was that front-line policemen seemed to be enjoying the job they were doing. You can see it in their eyes, and you can see it in their treatment of the Arabs and the Jews on site. As far as they are concerned, this time there was no discrimination between Arabs and Jews. Everyone was beaten. We were all their enemy. The briefings were successful, the right people were chosen for the job.

I was there over the week, and was on the receiving end of some of the enthusiastic policemen yesterday morning. I will, of course, file a complaint with MACHASH, Police Investigation Department, but I am not nave enough to think anything will come of it. But it is our civic duty! We must do this so that police violence will not swallow us all. So that it will not turn us into a state where the police dominates its citizens.

The police formed a cordon before us, gave us two minutes to disperse, and then one minute. Before thirty seconds went by they attacked anyone in the area. Most of us ran away. I was behind a camera and did not notice and within a moment was thrown to the ground by the policemen and felt bad. I tried to say something to the policemen, but they must have assumed I was pretending. They demanded that I get up, but I could not.

I had a hard time breathing and lost consciousness. The policemen held onto me and dragged me. My arms clearly show the marks of this police action. I told them that I feel bad, but it did not help. They demanded that I get up and leave. I did not manage to stand up, although I tried. Finally I made it into an upright position and leaned on one of the vehicles, and then a rude policeman came, held onto me, and pushed me before I managed to collect myself. He cursed me thoroughly, using words I have no desire to repeat. I am sure that if I had used such defamation of his mother, who may be as old as I, I would swiftly be removed from the rolls of the living!

I recovered after a moment, and asked for his name and badge number. He refused to respond, but his friends, standing around him, chose to cast about the names of singers. One said his name was Eyal Golan [famous singer]. I told them that they had a duty to carry identification badges, but it was useless. This whole time they were pushing me toward the Wadi. It took me a while to recover, and then I found out that Awad Abu Farih, who has been a friend of mine for 15 years, had been beaten in his stomach and testicles, apparently by one of the commanders. Others were beaten during the evacuation and felt bad in yesterdays great heat.

I saw the director of the Israeli Land Administration] Oversight Unit, Tziser by name, shout at Awad: You made a rude gesture to me (demonstrating it) and said youd rebuilt, so this is our response.

A petty clerk, glad to do his work and settling his personal accounts with dozens of families that he had left in the beating sun, taking personal revenge for a gesture which may or may not have been made when tempers flared. A clerk or policeman who goes home, to his family, and tells his children about another successful day at work? That he has the power to destroy? A clerk who is just obeying orders? Did you think it would come to this? That a time would come when state clerks, policemen or others, would obey terrible orders and think that it is fine and right to act this way?

The process rolls on, seemingly held by the clerk and the police, and no state representative gets involved in the irrational saga which is trampling children, adults, people whose rights have been stomped upon, who have been forgotten by the welfare authorities. Despite the demolitions, no state representative responsible for citizen welfare comes to see what is happening. The state has abandoned us, Arabs and Jews in the Negev, to the brutal forces of District Commander Danino and his policemen. Enough! Maybe someone with sober vision will come and dig a way out of the vicious circle?

Who is behind the campaign of destruction in the Negev? Is this a government decision, slam-bang and the Bedouins will be gone? Are the police forces serving the Jewish National Fund instead of the citizens as a whole? Are they motivated by lust for land?
Who is trying to set fire to the Negev?

Haia Noach is an activist in the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality.
This article originally appeared on the Ynet news portal on August 9th, 2010:,7340,L-3930888,00.html
- translated by Dena Shunra [

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