Palestinians killed in Israeli home demolition raid

Two Palestinians and one Israeli police officer killed during home-demolition operation in southern Bedouin village.

Israeli police officers shot dead a Palestinian who they allege tried to ram them with his car during a protest against home demolitions in southern Israel.

A policeman who was struck by the vehicle later died of his injuries, according to the Israeli media.

However, residents of the Bedouin village of Um Al Hiran, in the Negev Desert, said that the driver was simply heading to the scene to talk with authorities in an attempt to halt the demolitions.

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Um Al Hiran, said one other Palestinian was killed during clashes that broke out after the incident.

Ayman Odeh, a  Palestinian member of the Knesset (Israeli parliament),  was injured in the head by police during the confrontation, a parliamentary aide who was with him said.

Conflicting narratives

Israeli police said several officers were injured during the early-morning incident, without providing further details.

“A vehicle driven by a terrorist from the Islamic Movement intended to strike a number of officers and carry out an attack,” Micky Rosenfeld, police spokesperson, said in a statement.

A later Israeli statement confirmed that the alleged attacker was dead.

However, Raed Abu al-Qiyan, an Um Al Hiran activist, denied that the driver of the car was seeking to harm police.

Um Al Hiran is home to several Palestinian Bedouin families [Menahem Kahana/AFP]
Um Al Hiran is home to several Palestinian Bedouin families [Menahem Kahana/AFP]

Identifying the man as a member of his Bedouin clan by the name of Yacoub Abu al-Qiyan, told AFP news agency:  “The Israeli narrative is a lie. He was a revered school teacher.

“He was in his car and they shot at him from everywhere.”

The injured Palestinian politician Odeh heads the Joint List, a coalition of mainly Arab parties and the third-largest bloc in the Knesset.

“They attacked the MP and other people – demonstrators – with stun grenades, tear gas directly in people’s faces,” Odeh’s aide, Anan Maalouf, told Israeli army radio.

“There was no car-ramming attack here. There were no clashes here between the demonstrators and police.

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Israeli authorities regularly carry out demolitions of Bedouin homes they deem to have been built illegally.

However, building permits are nearly impossible to obtain, according to residents and activists, who say Jewish Israelis are given preferential treatment.

Israel plans to demolish the whole of  Um Al Hiran and replace it with a Jewish village by the name of Hiran.

Um Al Hiran is just one of about 40 “unrecognised” Bedouin villages in Negev scheduled for demolition despite being home to tens of thousands of residents.

Because of their “unrecognised” status, many of them are denied access to electricity, water and other municipal services.

Earlier in January, Palestinian citizens of Israel announced a nationwide strike after Israeli authorities demolished 11 Palestinian homes in the city of Qalansawe in central Israel.

These homes were also demolished on the pretext that they were built without a permit.

No new Palestinian towns have been built since Israel's creation [Menahem Kahana/AFP]
No new Palestinian towns have been built since Israel’s creation [Menahem Kahana/AFP]

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Yousef Jabareen, a Knesset member and professor of architecture, said half a million Palestinians face displacement in Israel and East Jerusalem.

During the past two decades about 5,000 Palestinian homes in Israel have been demolished, Jabareen estimates.

“There is an obvious plan to halt any prospect of Palestinian cities naturally developing and expanding as our population grows. There is systematic ghettoisation of our towns and a strategy to confine us within our existing spaces.”

Palestinians have jurisdiction over only 2.3 percent of the entire state’s land, causing severe overcrowding in towns and villages and the building of houses without the required permits.

Since the creation of the Israeli state in 1948, no new Palestinian towns or cities were built, in contrast to the 600 Jewish municipalities that have been developed, according to Adalah, the legal centre for Arab minority rights in Israel.

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Source: Al Jazeera