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Islamic Jihad says ready to defend Bedouin Palestinians in Negev against Israeli eviction push   

People shout slogans and wave Palestinian national flags as they stage a protest in the mostly Arab city of Umm al-Fahm, on January 14, 2022, in solidarity with Bedouin communities in the Negev Desert who face eviction under Israel’s controversial tree planting program. (Photo by AFP)

Islamic Jihad has thrown its weight behind Bedouin Palestinians in Negev (Naqab) in the face a forced eviction drive by Israel, saying the resistance movement stands ready to defend the occupied region as it was the case during last year’s Gaza war.

Tariq Izz al-Din, a spokesperson for Islamic Jihad's West Bank branch, made the remarks on Friday at a Gaza protest in solidarity with the Palestinian intifada (uprising) in Negev against the Zionist regime’s Judaization scheme.

“As long as the Palestinians are united and stand up against the occupying regime, all efforts by the Zionists to Judaize the Palestinian land will fail. In the course of the Operation al-Quds Sword, all Palestine stood up against Israel,” he added, referring to the operation launched by resistance groups in Gaza in May 2021 in retaliation for Israel’s bloody act of aggression.

“We will remain a single nation and land. The resistance is ready to defend Negev similar to the way that if defended its captives and inhabitants in Sheikh Jarrah. We will not take a neutral position and we will support the intifada of our countrymen in Negev.”

In addition to Gaza, a solidarity protest was held in the Arab-majority city of Umm al-Fahm on Friday.

"The issue of Naqab is the issue of every Palestinian facing the policies of occupation and apartheid. Naqab is not alone in this existential battle that he is facing," one of the participants told Wafa news agency.

Tensions grew in Negev on Monday after diggers and bulldozers of the so-called Jewish National Fund (JNF) razed some Bedouin farming lands as part of a controversial tree planting program.

On Friday night, Bedouin Palestinians in the Negev communities of Tel Sheva and Segev Shalom protested the Israeli eviction plot under the guise of a forestation work.

Israeli forces violently dispersed the protesters, who hurled rocks at a nearby police station, set off fireworks and burned tires.

At least one Palestinian was arrested during the clashes.

On Thursday, some 500 people took part in the Negev demonstration, but they were met with hundreds of Israeli forces who fired rubber-coated bullets, tear gas, stun grenades, as well as skunk water.

Tel Aviv launched the bombing campaign against Gaza on May 10, 2021 after Palestinians retaliated against violent raids on worshipers at the al-Aqsa Mosque and the regime’s plans to force a number of Palestinian families out of their homes at Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East al-Quds.

Apparently caught off guard by unprecedented rocket barrages from Gaza, Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire on May 21, which Palestinian resistance factions accepted with Egyptian mediation.

According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, at least 260 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli offensive and 1948 others were wounded.

Izz al-Din condemned the international community's silence on recent Israeli crimes in Negev, saying that the regimes normalizing ties with Tel Aviv are partners in the regime’s push to displace Negev residents.

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