Hundreds of Israeli Arabs demonstrated on Thursday against the proposed demolition of two illegal Bedouin communities in the western Negev.
The communities, Atir and Umm al-Hiran, both located in Wadi Atir, were built illegally by Israeli Bedouin Arabs following the establishment of the state.
After petitions by the towns were rejected by the Supreme Court, the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel in conjunction with Knesset members from the Joint Arab List called for mass demonstrations demanding state recognition of the two communities.
MK Taleb Abu Arar (Joint List), spoke at the demonstration, accused the state of unfairly targeting Bedouin citizens and decrying the demolition orders as part of a larger plan for "ethnic cleansing".
“What’s happening in the Negev is ethnic cleansing and development, just like everything else in the government’s plan is meant to accomplish ethnic cleansing,” Arar told protesters.
“We will never give up on our land and on our just claims, including recognition of our villages under our ownership on our land. We’re demanding that any plan whatsoever be done with the approval of the original residents. Standing together, we will win the struggle against ethnic cleansing.”
Despite his claims, the Bedouin's population is currently among the fastest-growing in Israel.