Daily Israel Report

Israeli Government Officials Attacked by Negev Bedouin

Foreign Minister condemns attack on Israeli officials, vows to end lawlessness and 'impunity' of Bedouin in southern Israel.
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 1/7/2014, 5:09 PM

Arab rioters throwing rocks (Illustrative)
Arab rioters throwing rocks (Illustrative)
Flash 90

Israeli government officials were attacked by Bedouin rock-throwers during an official tour of Israel's southern Negev region Tuesday morning.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told of the attack in a message posted on his official Facebook page. Liberman slammed the attack and vowed to put an end to the phenomenon of lawlessness which currently exists in part of the region, as unfettered Arab settlement building by Bedouin gangs continues to raise tension in the area.

Describing how the bus in which the officials (not including the Liberman himself) "was pelted with stones by Bedouin from nearby villages", the Foreign Minister stated: "This is yet another illustration of the unbearable impunity of the Bedouin in the area, which began with illegal building and continues with violence and refusal to accept the authority of the state.

"We must deal with this national problem as soon as possible, without blinking and without apologizing" he continued, and vowed that "we will do it."

Illegal Bedouin building projects have mushroomed throughout the Negev, which makes up around 60% of Israel's total landmass but is relatively sparsely populated. Watchdog groups say the settlement building amount to a "land-grab" by Bedouin, often encouraged by foreign and Israeli left-wing activists.

The issue made headlines over the past few months as the government debated the controversial "Prawer-Begin Plan", which sought to solve the issue by legalizing many illegal Arab settlements whilst relocating some Bedouin settlers to planned towns.

In all, the plan would have given Negev Bedouin 180,000 dunams (45,000 acres) of state land for free, additionally granting them "compensation" for the state land many Bedouin are currently squatting on. 

But the bill was rejected amid staunch opposition from both sides of the political spectrum. Left-wing politicians and activists objected to the proposed relocation of 30,000-40,000 Bedouins from illegal outposts and villages, and demolition of 40 illegal settlements. Right-wing opponents of the bill opposed it due to what they said was essentially a "wrong and unjust" of huge swathes of land to Arab squatters, setting a dangerous precedent.