A group of around forty right-wing Israelis attacked the Palestinian Bedouin villages of Umm al-Hiran and Rakhama, located in the Negev desert, at around 4:30 am on Sunday morning, remaining there until around 8:30 am.According to local residents, the right-wing Israelis attacked their livestock and shouted racial epithets at the villagers, as well as damaging their property. The attackers set fire to a tent belonging to Eid Abu Habbak, according to the head of the village council.

Salman Ibn Hamid, the head of the village council, told reporters from the Ma’an news agency, “The setters of Retamim are acting like they are in the West Bank. These people have the mentality of the occupying settler to attack every Arab.”

The attack comes less than a week after large-scale non-violent demonstrations and marches were held in the Bedouin villages to protest an Israeli government plan to forcibly transfer over 40,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their homes in order to destroy their villages and make way for planned Israeli developments on their land.

Thousands of Bedouins have already been forcibly transferred to Israeli-government created ‘townships’, where they are unable to engage in their traditional farming and herding practices, and where infrastructure is virtually non-existent and crime and disease run rampant. One of the largest such townships is located adjacent to the Jerusalem municipal garbage dump.

This far, the 40,000 Bedouin slated for forced removal have resisted the Israeli government’s attempts to remove them from their ancestral land, with some families having rebuilt their homes over two dozen times after the Israeli government returns again and again to demolish their homes.

After Sunday morning’s invasion, Palestinian Bedouin legislator, who represents the Bedouin minority in the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) filed an appeal with the Israeli Minister of Public Security, requesting that he respond to the ongoing assaults against the Palestinian Bedouin communities living in the Negev desert.

The Bedouin communities that have existed in the Negev desert for thousands of years have never been recognized by the Israeli government since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, and the Palestinian Bedouins have faced decades of repression and forced removal by Israeli authorities as a result of this refusal to recognize their legitimate claim to continue to live on their ancestral land.