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Friday, July 24, 2009

Life As An Israeli Arab

From BBC:

Sami Salameh has taken me to what used to be his home before the Israeli authorities flattened it.

He insists this plot of earth belonged to his family dating back to Ottoman times. But Israel has claimed it as state land. He is not allowed to build here now.

Mr Salameh's new home is in the Arab town of Majdal Krum, in northern Israel. It's illegally built, as is the whole neighbourhood.

His family of 14 lives in three rooms. The sewage system is poor.

He points out the problems Israeli Arabs face - overcrowding, poverty and the ways, he says, Israel's authorities strangle Arab towns, restricting construction, progress and growth.

"You can see surrounding Sakhnin this military base - which of course prevents Sakhnin and the people from using these lands which they used to own," he says.

"You can see there are only tens of metres between the houses of Sakhnin and the industrial zone.

"Of course all the benefits of this industrial zone go to Misgav - which is the Jewish regional council."

An Israeli government commission came to the same conclusions.

The Orr Commission published a report on the status of Israeli Arabs in 2003.

It says Israel has effectively blocked the expansion of its Israeli Arab towns by surrounding them with highways, nature reserves, Jewish councils, military zones or other entities.

The Orr Commission concluded that "[the Israeli] government's handling of the Arab sector has been primarily neglectful and discriminatory".

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