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200 Palestinian Bedouins forced out of West Bank's Area C

200 Palestinian Bedouins forced out of West Bank's Area C due to settler violence
4 min read
07 June, 2023
The Bedouin relocated to Area B - deemed safer - where the Palestinian Authority typically exercises more control. However, the movement from Area C to Area B of the occupied West Bank marks a worrying development
Bedouin chief Abu Najeh el-Amri, 75, and several Bedouin families were forced to relocate to a safer area in the occupied West Bank last month due to settler violence, 4 June 2023. [Ibrahim Husseini/TNA]

 Dozens of Palestine Bedouin families were forced to move out of their camp in Ein Samiya in "Area C" in the occupied West Bank due to Israeli settler violence.

The Arab el-Ka'baneh Bedouin relocated further west to "Area B" - deemed safer - where the Palestinian Authority typically exercises more control. However, the movement from "Area C" - where Israel has complete military and administrative control -  to "Area B" marks a worrying development. It may incentivise settlers to press on with their agenda to expel Palestinians. 

"Area C" under the Oslo Accords constitutes nearly sixty-one per cent of the occupied West Bank and is the main focus of the illegal Jewish settlement enterprise and where more than 500,000 Jewish settlers reside. 

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Abu Najeh el-Amri, the Bedouin chief, said that settler violence towards the camp began five years ago but has intensified in the last year with regular attacks during the night by religious and often violent settlers known as the 'hilltop youth'. 

The 75-year-old Bedouin chief said that last month' hilltop youth' settlers seized, in the presence of the Israeli military, 37 sheep from one of the Bedouin herders, while wrongfully claiming that the sheep were stolen. The incident caused the Arab el-Ka'baneh Bedouin to consider relocating to a different location further away from the reach of the Jewish settlers. 

"In the last five years, the settlers besieged us," Abu Najeh said. 

"We used to buy fodder six months of the year and rely on grazing ground for another six months, but lately, we're buying fodder most of the year because the settlers wouldn't let us reach most of the grazing fields", he added. 

The Bedouin's primary source of income derives from sheep farming. 

Fearing for the safety of their women, children, and livestock, some 30 families of the Arab el-Ka'baneh Bedouin finally dismantled their camp of more than 40 years- leaving behind acres of rain-fed wheat and barley fields that would have provided sustenance for them and their livestock. 

They moved about two kilometres northwest to a place called, "Bariyet Abu Falah." Rugged and on a hilltop, unlike the old site on flat land, the new location is windy and needs to be levelled — a cost they can't bear. 

As a result, many of the families' belongings still lay on the ground. 

Abu Najeh says they need brick structures or prefab rooms to withstand the high wind. 


The Arab el-Ka'abneh Bedouin were forced to relocate from Ein Samiya to "Bariyet Abu Falah" in Area B of the occupied West Bank where the Palestinian Authority exercises more control, 4 June 2023. [Ibrahim Husseini/TNA]

The move, under coercion, drew little more than condemnation. 

"That's a dangerous development", Abdullah Abu Rahmeh, a Palestinian official, said. 

"The settlers' aggression at the Bedouins, the taking over of water wells and the stealing of livestock, this is all dangerous, and Israel bears full responsibility", he added. 

The European Union also condemned in 'strongest terms' the violence perpetrated by the settlers towards Bedouins. In a recent statement, the EU acknowledged Israel's 'failure to protect Palestinians and prosecute violent settlers'. 

"The EU is appalled to learn that the Palestinian community of Ein Samiya in the occupied West Bank, which comprises 172 people, including 78 children, was forced to leave their homes permanently, as a result of repeated settler attacks and demolition orders. The EU firmly condemns settler violence and calls on Israel to ensure accountability", the statement added. 

A donor-funded elementary school that provided within-reach education to Bedouin kids was also left behind when the camp was disassembled. The school was opened in January 2022. In April of the same year, the Israeli Civil Administration delivered a demolition order for the school. The residents appealed against the demolition order several times, but Israeli courts dismissed their requests. 

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Over 60 per cent of the occupied West Bank is regarded as "Area C", where Israel retains complete rule, including security, planning and zoning. An estimated 150,000 Palestinians live in "Area C", including 27,500 Bedouins and other herders.

B'tselem, the Israeli information centre for human in the occupied territories, said in a report that the Arab el-Ka'baneh community have suffered from violence by the Israeli forces, from settler violence executed 'with the full backing of the State', and from severe restrictions on constructing homes and infrastructure, as well as demolitions.

Israel's broader political agenda is to maximise the use of West Bank resources for Israeli needs while minimising the land reserves available to Palestinians, B'tselem stated in its report. 

The Arab el-Ka'baneh tribe is originally from the Naqab desert but was expelled by Israel shortly after the 1948 Nakba. 

Since then, Israel pushed them to relocate several times; in 1969, 1977 and most recently, last month.