Muhammed Salami, Israel, “They even took the kettle and the tea cups”

Photo: Shabtai Gold/IRIN

The home of Muhammed Salami, 70, an Arab citizen of Israel, was destroyed by Israeli security forces

June 2007 (IRIN)

ATIR (NEGEV DESERT), Muhammed Salami, 70, from the al-Qi’an tribe, is an Arab citizen of Israel. His home and the homes of his large family – 40 children and grandchildren – were destroyed on 25 June by Israeli security forces who said the buildings were “illegal” and that the land was “state land”.

Over 150 people lost their homes during the operation.

Salami lives in the village of Atir, in the Negev desert in southern Israel. He related his story, sitting under a canopy to block out the sun. Most of his belongings and food, he said, had been confiscated.

“We came to these lands in 1956, under martial law. After [the war in] 1948, we wandered all around the country, even up north to Galilee. Then the ministries and the army gave us this land to live on. They forced us to live here.

“There was no one around here at all when we came. We had to travel [25 kilometres] to Beer Sheeba to buy water. It used to cost us five pounds every time for the water, I remember. We brought back big containers.

“I was young then. When we moved here, I had just got married. All my children were born here.

“Now they [the Israeli authorities] come and tell me we have to move again. We have never hurt the state, all these years. We never did anything bad to them. We even contributed to the state. So why?

“To destroy our homes, and take our things, bread, food. Why would anyone do this to us? I have 40 people in my family. Where will they sleep tonight?

“They [the Israelis] say they want to do good for the Bedouins. How is destroying our homes and taking our belongings doing us good?

“They even took the kettle and the tea cups.”


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