Planning for a war crime

The Israeli Civil Administration is currently stepping up the implementation of a set of plans for a forcible transfer of 7 000 Palestinian Bedouins to new townships in the Jordan Valley. The biggest township, Talet Nuweima, just north of Jericho, will be built upon land housing existing Bedouin communities, and BGSaltnes-Bedouin_landscape_Nuweima_2014_09_13surrounded by two settlements and two military bases.  Abu Faysal at Nuwei’ma Al-Faqua says the current plans offer each family unit a 500 m2 plot with a maximum of five sheep. Traditional Bedouin lifestyle requires sufficient space. Space to move and graze livestock. Space to have necessary distance to other families. Space to see open landscape around them. Space to remain a Bedouin.BGSaltnes-Abu_Faysal_map_Nuweima_2014_09_13

In one of the Bedouin communities now at risk of being forcibly transferred and relocated to Nuwei’ma, my teammate Lea Pakkanen and I visited Mukhtar  Suleyman Ali Al Raar and his grandsons Loar (2,5), Nimer and Suleyman (12). In Khan al Ahmar Miktwish they are still able to maintain their Bedouin identity. The different family units live with enough space between them.

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The children, being children, use every opportunity to have fun and be happy. They know that their lifestyle is being threatened. From a very early age on they sit silently, close to a grandfather or a father and listen attentively to what they say. Of course they know about the Nuwei’ma plan. Of course they are afraid of what is coming, and it is of course more so frightening that they do not fully understand what the grownups are talking about and what it means when grandfather have this special look on his face.

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The Netanyahu administration considers relocation a necessary step to expand the illegal Adumim settlements outside Jerusalem from 48 to 60 km2. According to Israeli organization Peace Now, during the nine months of Secretary Kerry’s peace talk efforts in the region between July 2013 and April 2014, Israel announced tenders for 4,868 new settlement homes while advancing plans for an additional 8,938 new homes. Once completed, these tenders and plans would house approximately 55,000 Israeli settlers[1]. During the same time, UN OCHA data shows that Israel demolished 510 Palestinian homes or buildings, displacing 913 Palestinians from their land. Extensive demolition of private property, when carried out wantonly and unlawfully, constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention (Articles 53 and 147) and is prosecutable as a war crime.

On 27 April this year Yoav Mordechai in the Defense Ministry planning branch said: “The military was developing plans as part of its policy to remove Bedouins from large areas of the West Bank, and to gather and regulate them in and orderly and proper manner” (my emphasis).

The Nuwei’ma Plan has been deposited for public objections, with a 60-day objection period till 25th October. At this point, only political authorization from Israel can stop the implementation of the relocation plans. International pressure to cancel these 6 plans is therefore critical.

If you know a politician, even a local one, go to him/her and tell about this story. It is real. It is going to happen unless the pressure from around the world gets too strong even for the politicians of Israel. Plead with your politician to take the knowledge of this planned war crime to their next level, and then to the next. BGSaltnes-Demolition_order_Khan_al_Ahmar_Mihtwish_2014_09_30Nimer has his dreams about how to be a Bedouin, with space around him. When his grandfather’s face gets to dark for him, he finds a visiting international to have fun with and make fun of. I have a deep feeling of being responsible for telling you, my reader, about what is going to happen to Nimer unless someone starts to scream. This text is my scream for now. Please help Nimer by adding to the volume of this scream.

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[1] http://peacenow.org.il/eng/9Months

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