Over 10,000 Beduin citizens living on and near land assigned to become a phosphate mine will be forced to relocate by Israel, with most of them being concentrated in a new town nearby, a senior government policy-maker for Beduin affairs has told The Jerusalem Post. Yair Maayan, the head of the Authority for Development and Settlement of the Beduin in the Negev, said the relocation plan was not motivated by the mine. His disclosure comes just two weeks after plans including a mine at Sde Barir, near Arad, were approved by the Inter Ministerial Cabinet for Planning, Building, Land and Housing. The approval came despite the objections of the Health Ministry, which says mining at Sde Barir would pose a “health danger” to nearby communities.Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman on Tuesday told the Knesset Economics Committee that mining at Sde Barir “will harm people and kill people. It is my job to sound the alarm and prevent this.” If carried out, It will be one of the largest relocations of citizens in Israel’s recent history, exceeding the Gaza Strip withdrawal of 2005, when some 8,000 citizens were forced to move.
“We intend to concentrate the settlement, to place it into a given area,” Maayan said.The area of the mine and a one-kilometer perimeter around it will be clear of inhabitants; the authority has already met with families to persuade them to move, he said.“I can’t say that they 100% agree, but in general there are agreements.”
Yehoshua Mor-Yosef, the spokesman for the Beduin authority, said that “where they are living now is unrecognized. They will have to move to a place that is legal.” -Source: Jerusalem Post