Israel is planning to forcibly transfer thousands of Palestinian Bedouins from their West Bank communities into a designated township to free up land for settlement expansion. Local and international groups are urging world leaders to pressure Israel to stop this violation of Palestinian rights. The Israeli government publicized, last week, six plans to move Palestinian Bedouins out of their communities around Jericho, Ramallah, and Jerusalem. The plans include moving Bedouins out of the politically sensitive area referred to as the Jerusalem Periphery or “E1,” where Israel has long-intended to demolish 23 Bedouin villages in order to expand and link settlements. Settlement expansion in this area would cut the West Bank in two, further disrupting movement and social and economic ties between major Palestinian cities and limiting the little access Palestinians in the West Bank have to Jerusalem.
All of the Palestinian Bedouin communities slated for transfer are located in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank where Israel maintains full civil and military control. There are already around 341,000 Israeli settlers living in more than 100 settlements throughout Area C. Although Area C is within the internationally recognized 1967 borders of the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel only allows Palestinians to build on 1 percent of it.
International humanitarian organisations have noted that this lack of authority to build makes Palestinians vulnerable to home demolition, displacement, and forcible transfer and limits their ability to realize their rights to water, to adequate shelter, to education, health, and to livelihood.
Over 40 local and international agencies have called on world leaders to pressure Israel to cancel these plans.
In recent months, the government of Israel has used coercive tactics to heighten the pressure on Palestinian Bedouin communities, issuing eviction orders and demolishing homes and livelihood structures. Aid agencies report that Israel has also obstructed them from delivering assistance to these communities, including by seizing and destroying emergency shelters that international donors provided for families whose homes were demolished and confiscating a swing-set and a slide for a Bedouin school.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reports that Israel has already demolished more than 350 Palestinian homes or livelihood structures in Area C in 2014, while demolitions in the Jerusalem periphery and E1 area have hit a five-year high, displacing 170 Bedouins, 91 of whom are children.