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Palestinians protest the Prawer Plan, which will forcibly displace tens of thousands from the Naqab.

(Yotam Ronen / ActiveStills)

In September 1948, a Zionist army truck forcibly rounded up 14 Palestinian Bedouin farmers near al-Araqib in the Naqab (Negev), drove them to an abandoned home, and then shot them at point blank range.

Since 15 July this year, Israeli border and riot police have arrested more than forty Palestinians, mostly youth, in Bir al-Saba (Beersheba), Sakhnin, Kfar Kanna and Wadi Ara during protests against the so-called Prawer Plan that will forcibly displace up to 40,000 Bedouin.

Although 65 years separate both events, what motivated them remains the same. This is why the Prawer Plan has been called a “second” Nakba, as its intentions are similar to the Palestinian catastrophe of 1947-49 that saw the expulsion of approximately 750,000 Palestinians.

However, to call it a “second” Nakba is inaccurate.

Since the State of Israel was founded, its government has constantly focused on displacing and dispossessing Palestinians in order to free the land for continued Zionist settlement and expansion. The Prawer Plan is not a renewal of an old catastrophe: it is characteristic of ongoing colonialism. This means that the Nakba is a continuing phenomenon rather than limited to a certain time period.

Local residents say the al-Araqib massacre of 1948 was motivated by the desire to instill fear and prompt their flight.

The expulsion of Palestinians was a planned policy, as documented by the Israeli historian Ilan Pappé in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

The ethnic cleansing operations in the Naqab began in July 1948 and resulted in 90 percent of the original population remaining outside what became Israel.

Executed

According to eyewitness testimony, in September 1948, an Israeli army leader notorious for regularly harassing Palestinian Bedouin, and known by the psuedonym Moshe al-Khawaja, patrolled the area around al-Araqib with a band of other armed Zionists.

They forced 14 young and middle-aged Bedouin men who were working their fields onto a truck, and transported them to the recently-abandoned home of the refugee Odeh al-Qawasemeh.

There, the Bedouin men were summarily executed and their bodies were dumped inside this bayekah, a house made from mud and stone.

The al-Araqib massacre was written about in the local Naqab-based Arabic press by Saqr Abu Sa’alouq and in Ibrahim Abu Jaber’s 2004 Encyclopedia of Nakba Injury. Most testimonies of the massacre that have been published were eyewitness accounts.

MRN

Author: MRN Network

The aspiration of the Media Review Network is to dispel the myths and stereotypes about Islam and Muslims and to foster bridges of understanding among the diverse people of our country. The Media Review Network believes that Muslim perspectives on issues impacting on South Africans are a prerequisite to a better appreciation of Islam.