Palestinian protest Prawer's plan which aims to forcibly displace tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouins in the Negev-Naqab desert, 1 August (Photo: Ahmed Al-Biqawi)
Thousands of Palestinians gathered in the occupied territories on Thursday to protest the notorious Prawer Plan which aims to forcibly displace tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouins in the Negev-Naqab desert.
Two main rallies were planned for Thursday, one at the Lehavim Junction in Negev in southern Israel, the other at the Aara Junction in the north.
In Negev, hundreds of Israeli security forces were reportedly deployed, blocking main streets leading to the protest to prevent locals and protesters from reaching the demonstration.
"We're fighting against the Prawer Plan. It's like another Nakba (catastrophe) for us," 24-year-old Etedal Suleiman, resident of a nearby Bedouin village, told AFP, in historical reference to 760,000 Palestinians fleeing their homes after Israel's creation in 1948.
In Aara police used teargas to disperse protesters. According to media reports, at least 13 protesters have been arrested. One of the protesters Ahmed El-Biqawy told Ahram Online that a protest would be taking place in front of a court in Aara as 10 of their comrades have been arrested.
"The people demand the downfall of the [Prawer] Plan," chanted protesters.
Notably, a number of Arab countries held solidarity protests against the Israeli project, including Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco.
The plan, which was brought before the Knesset as a bill last June, aims to expropriate over 800,000 dunams (800,000,000 square metres) of land in the Negev-Naqab desert and expel between 30,000 to 50,000 Palestinian Bedouins.
The plan outraged Palestinians and Arabs, who see it is as another Nakba in the history of Palestine, and are is calling for a general strike to halt the plan.
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay slammed the bill last week, urging the Israeli government to reconsider its plans.
"If this bill becomes law, it will accelerate the demolition of entire Bedouin communities, forcing them to give up their homes, denying them their rights to land ownership, and decimating their traditional cultural and social life in the name of development," Pillay said.