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Protesters rally against Prawer Plan in Israel, West Bank

July 15, 2013 2:53 P.M. (Updated: July 16, 2013 5:04 P.M.)
BEERSHEBA, Israel (Ma'an) -- Demonstrations took place across Israel and the occupied West Bank on Monday to protest against Israel's Prawer Plan, which will displace thousands of Bedouin families in the Negev desert.

In Beersheba, protesters blocked the main road by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev before being displaced by Israeli forces, witnesses said.

At least 20 people were arrested and dozens assaulted by Israeli forces as demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and chanted "Down with the Prawer-Begin criminal plan".

Protesters carried signs with the names of the Bedouin villages which are due to be displaced.

Balad, a Palestinian political party in Israel, said that Israeli officers assaulted the party's chairman Jamal Zahalka, with Palestinian MKs Ahmad Tibi, Ibrahim Sarsour, Talab Abu Arar and Talab al-Sani all participating in the demonstration.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri told Ma'an that 14 protestors were arrested and two Israeli police officers were injured during the rally.

"After demonstrators blocked the main road in Beersheba, police announced the rally had become illegal," Samri added.

The High Follow-Up Committee for Arab citizens of Israel announced a general strike on Monday, with protests due to take place in Umm al-Fahm, Sakhnin, and the Negev.

Demonstrations will also take place in Jaffa, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Hebron, Nablus and across Israel in Lod and Ramle.

In May, Israel approved a draft law to implement a plan which will displace thousands of Bedouins in the Negev desert.

The Israeli government approved the Prawer-Begin plan in 2011, in what it says was an attempt to address the problem of unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev desert of southern Israel.

The 2011 proposal was formulated without any consultation with the Bedouin community and rights groups slammed it as a major blow to Bedouin rights.

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the plan will forcibly evict nearly 40,000 Bedouins and destroy their communal and social fabric, condemning them to a future of poverty and unemployment.

Israel refuses to recognize 35 Bedouin villages in the Negev, which collectively house nearly 90,000 people.

The Israeli state denies them access to basic services and infrastructure, such as electricity and running water, and refuses to place them under municipal jurisdiction.

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