Thousands protest Bedouin displacement plan in Israel
Thousands of Israelis took to streets across the country Saturday over a government plan to displace some 40,000 Arab Bedouins from their lands.
Clashes erupted between some protesters and police, leaving some injured, including some policemen, Xinhua reported.
The demonstrations are part of an "International Day of Rage" against the Prawer Plan, which is expected to be approved by the Israeli parliament in its final reading by the end of this year.
Demonstrations also took place in the West Bank, Gaza and about two dozen countries, including Britain, Germany and Egypt.
The main demonstration in Israel took place in the Negev area, where the majority of the Bedouins live. Israel's Ynet news website showed paramilitary riot police tried to disperse the demonstrators for hours, using extensive amount of tear gas and stun grenades.
A police spokesperson told Xinhua that some Bedouin youngsters hurled stones at policemen and blocked a road, adding that about 10 protesters were arrested.
"It was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration, ... but the police lost control of the situation and used excessive force" said Taleb A-Sana, a former Bedouin member of the Knesset.
"The government, instead of tackling the poverty and discrimination against the Bedouins, sent a police force to kill a legitimate protest," A-Sana said.
"It is time for the government to start treating the Bedouins as citizens of equal-rights," he added.
On Friday, musicians Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno, along with more than 50 public figures, published a letter opposing the Bedouin relocation plan in Britain's Guardian newspaper, calling on the British government to link its relationship with Israel conditional to "respect for human rights and international law."
The Bedouins, some 192,000, are indigenous residents of the Negev. Half of them live in some 40 "unrecognized" villages, for which the Israeli government does not provide public services. Israeli National Insurance defines these villages as the poorest in Israel, which suffer from overpopulation and lack of infrastructure.
According to the relocation plan, most of these villages will be dismantled and the villagers will be relocated to seven towns set up by the government in the 1950s and 1970s.