Symbolic, short-lived: Jewish settlement in southern Israel destroyed

Police bulldozed a temporary settlement built by Jewish activists, protesting Bedouin land grabs in the Negev desert.

By World Israel News Staff

Israeli police evacuated a Jewish settlement in the Negev desert on the outskirts of the Bedouin town of Rahat Wednesday morning, just hours after it was built by right-wing activists.

Ma’ale Paula, named after the wife of Israel’s first prime minister, Paula Ben-Gurion, consisted of just a few temporary structures assembled by the Jewish activists.

During the 1948 War of Independence, David Ben-Gurion stated: “If we do not hold on to the Negev, we will eventually lose Tel Aviv. The Negev is the most important stake in the Zionist venture, and our most urgent task is to encourage people to settle in this region.”

In 1953, he resigned from the government and joined the Sde Boker Kibbutz in the Negev.

The short-lived outpost, built Tuesday evening in protest of Bedouin land grabs, carried great symbolic meaning. MKs from the Religious Zionism and Likud parties came to support it.

According to a report from the Jewish Press, the wooden structures at the site bore Israeli flags and a poster featuring Ben-Gurion that read, “In the Negev, the people of Israel and their state will be tested.”

“The State of Israel has abandoned the Negev,” the poster continued. “There’s no governance and no sovereignty. The scattered Bedouin are spreading and the government whitewashes illegal villages and connects them to electricity.”

After the Israeli government passed the so-called Electricity Law in January, which connected unpermitted, illegally built Bedouin homes to Israel’s national power grid, anger over faltering Israeli sovereignty in the Negev has grown.

In a statement, Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir, who visited the site, said that “the control Bedouin are taking in the Negev over the country’s lands is a problematic phenomenon that needs to be stopped.

“The solution is to establish more and more Jewish outposts that will prevent this and will create facts on the ground.”

The outpost’s organizers told the Jerusalem Post that the site “is the first in a line of settlements that will be established in the Negev.”

It was created “in response to the lack of governance in the Negev to oppose the spreading of the Bedouin Diaspora,” they said.

Just hours after the structures were assembled, Bedouin from Rahat confronted Jews at the site, including MK Ben Gvir.

Rahat’s mayor, Faiz Abu Sahiban, told Haaretz that he “called the police and asked them to evacuate this outpost and the settlers as soon as possible, otherwise I can’t be sure what the consequences would be. There are calls in the city and on the social networks to get to the place and clash with the settlers.”

By 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, the Israeli police had cleared all Jews from the outpost. Two people were detained for questioning.