Last week, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar accused the Jewish state of “a grave crime” and a “violation of international law,” and implied that the U.S. by supporting it was “bankrolling ethnic cleansing.” She cited as evidence a report that a recent IDF operation had “demolished the homes of nearly 80 Palestinian Bedouins.” But both the original report and Omar’s framing of it misrepresent the facts. Adam Levick¸ analyzing a similar story that appeared in the Guardian, sets the record straight:
[The Bedouin] encampment is actually within Area C, the part of the West Bank (in the Jordan Valley) under full Israeli civil and military control per the Oslo Accords. . . . Additionally, the claim that the Bedouin in question are now “homeless” is most likely not accurate. Indeed, the BBC’s Yolande Knell acknowledged, in a recent report on Radio 4, that at least some of the Bedouin families in question are now living in donated tents north of the Jordan Valley.
Further, . . . Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that its residents have no property rights in the location (i.e. the land does not belong to them). Moreover, previous Israeli court cases on the same issue were heard in 2011 and 2014, and the petitioners lost in all cases.
The Guardian reporter clearly made no effort to research the legal history of the Bedouin claims—information that helps put the story in proper context. Nor did he bother to note that at least some of the structures in the illegal encampment were built via foreign funding—including from the EU and UK.
What actually happened? The Bedouin set up camp in an area the IDF has used as a firing range since 1972, and which according to international law is under Israeli control. Since the Bedouin don’t have permanent residency there, they have no legal rights to the land. After allowing them to make their case in court, the IDF removed all of seven tents and eight animal pens.