A Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli forces on Wednesday after clashes erupted in a Bedouin town in southern Israel that faces imminent demolition, according to police sources and eyewitnesses.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld in a statement confirmed that a Palestinian was shot dead in Umm al-Hiran, located in the Negev Desert, after he allegedly tried to run over policemen with his vehicle.
The road leading to the town has since been closed off by police. Village headman Raed Abu al-Qiyan, however, denied the statement, saying the police were "liars."
Arabs make up a fifth of Israel's population. They enjoy full citizenship but frequently face unfair treatment in areas like jobs and housing. The Israeli government recently vowed to crack down harder on illegal Arab construction following criticism from Jewish settlers, who face a court-ordered evacuation of an illegally built outpost in the West Bank.
Last week, authorities demolished 11 homes in the central city of Kalansua, sparking a general strike among Israeli Arabs, who say the problem stems from long-standing barriers to acquiring proper permits put in place by the state.
Wednesday's evacuation plans involved a long-running dispute between Israel and the formerly nomadic Bedouin of the Umm Al-Hiran village. Israel moved part of a Bedouin clan to the state-owned land 60 years ago, but now wishes to relocate residents to a government-designated Bedouin township.
In 2013, Israeli cabinet approved the establishment of two new Jewish communities in the Negev, Kesif and Hiran. In order to make way for the two new towns, the Bedouin village, which is unrecognized by the authorities, faces demolition.
In 2015, Israel's Supreme Court approved the removal, saying that since the residents could theoretically live in the new towns, the move did not constitute discrimination.
The government said Umm al-Heiran's residents were to be moved to the nearby Bedouin village of Hura, which is already home to some 300 families.
Meanwhile, rights group Adalah, which has represented the villagers in court, in a statement said, "The Israeli Supreme Court's decision to allow the state to proceed with its plan to demolish the village, which has existed for 60 years, in order to establish a Jewish town called ‘Hiran' over its ruins, is one of the most racist judgments that the Court has ever issued."
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