Press TV in its program Remember Palestine has conducted an interview with Reverend Dr. Stephen Sizer, active member of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, London to further discuss the issue.
What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: There is a very serious issue at hand here where the people are systematically being removed from their lands.
Dr. Sizer: It’s a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, which require an occupying power to protect the rights of the civilian population.
But we see from 1948, there has been a systematic expulsion of the Bedouin from the Negev into townships, which destroys their way of life, they’ve lived for thousands of years with their herds, subsistence farming, living in tents and caves.
They have been forced into townships, deprived of their livelihood, their flocks and it’s destroying their way of life. It’s a war crime.
What we’re seeing this week, there is home demolitions in those villages just south of Hebron, is a systematic policy to expel them from the land that Israel wants to steal from them.
Press TV: And it seems almost ironic that one of the ways around which a family can prevent their place from being taken over is to prove that you have a permanent resident here which, if you are a Bedouin, that goes against your tradition, it goes against your culture and in most of the cases the people who apply for these permanent resident orders are not granted it anyway. So you’re in a ridiculous Catch 22 scenario.
Dr. Sizer: Yes. As an occupying power Israel has no right to demand these permits or to treat the Bedouin in this way, but the idea that they need that area of land for security or for a military training ground is laughable.
There is plenty of empty space on the Negev to plant military bases. It is purely targeting those villages to depopulate that part of Palestine in order to force the Bedouin off. It has been a systematic policy for decades, which the Israelis are following.
Press TV: Being with ICAD (International Committee Against Disappearances), UK is anything being done?
Dr. Sizer: Well, ICAD is producing very good simple documents. This one is called No Where Left To Go and it focuses on the Bedouin that live near Jerusalem. 90 percent of them have demolition orders on their homes – their tents, their prefabs. 80 percent of them are refugees because they were forced out of the Negev in the 1940s. It has some very simple charts and statistics, which are very helpful for educational reasons.
But one of the practical things that ICAD is doing is rebuilding homes. We can’t keep pace with the demolitions, which the Israelis are doing, but ICAD is rebuilding Palestinian homes. It’s a practical constructive way the international society can engage in defying the illegal occupation of Palestine.
Press TV: But wouldn’t it take a stern word from the UK or the US to put a halt to this?
Dr. Sizer: Words mean nothing to the Israelis. There is no one to hold the Israelis accountable – maybe apart from Iran. But no one is holding Israel accountable for it actions so they’ll get away with it. One of the early slogans which the Zionists dreamed up ‘A land of no people for people with no land’ is a myth – because the land wasn’t empty.
But they are trying to create facts on the ground by expelling the Palestinians from the land so that they can keep it for themselves. It’s a form of ethnic cleansing, a form of racism.
But sooner or later, civil society in the West through their boycotts and divestments and sanctions movement through the United Nations, time will come. Someone once said that the arch of history bends toward justice. And the tyrants of this world do not last forever. Society does hold them accountable. And God willing ‘inshallah’ we will hold the Israeli government accountable for its actions.
Press TV: In about twenty seconds Reverend, what happens to these people?
Dr. Sizer: Well, they move on. They survive in the desert. They move on and then the Israelis will track them and force them further into the desert or into these townships where they have to live in appalling conditions that is alien to their culture, their way of life and they become statistics sadly, but through programs like this we remember them and we keep attention on them.