Israeli authorities have revoked the citizenship of hundreds of Israeli Arabs in the southern Negev region over the past two years, leaving them stateless, Israeli daily Haaretz revealed Friday.
According to the newspaper, Israel's Interior Ministry has changed the status of these Israeli Arabs from "citizens" to "inhabitants", which has led to the forfeiture of many of their basic rights.
Reacting to the report, Talab Abu Arar, an Israeli Arab member of the Knesset (Israel's parliament), demanded that the ministry reverse the move.
According to Abu Arar, the citizenships were surreptitiously stripped by the ministry's office in the city of Beersheba (the Negev's largest city) when Israeli Arab residents applied to renew their national ID cards or passports.
In a statement, Juma Azbarga, an Israeli Arab Knesset member from the Joint Arab List coalition, asserted: "We will not sit idly by in the face of attempts to gradually expel us from our homeland… and de-legitimize our existence."
"The revocation of our citizenship makes us vulnerable to abuse and restricts our freedom of movement," he added, pointing out that non-citizens lack the right to vote or run in general elections.
Describing the move as "contrary to Israeli law itself", Azbarga added: "Our citizenship is derived from our presence in our homeland and our history -- it does not depend on the whim of a few rogue officials."
However, the Interior Ministry says these status changes are due to "erroneous registration", without offering any further detail or explanation. It also advises those with revoked citizenship to submit a new request for citizenship and start from scratch.