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Protests erupt over Israeli plan to plant trees near Bedouin villages

Area Bedouins protested this morning against the Jewish National Fund's plan to plant trees on land they use for agriculture.

Tensions continue to rise Jan. 12 in the Negev Desert region in the south of Israel. Dozens of Israeli Bedouins protested this morning against the Jewish National Fund advancing its forestation plan near the unrecognized Bedouin village of Sawa. The protesters threw stones at the security forces that accompanied the forestry teams. Police responded with stun grenades and arrested at least 10 of the protesters. Police are reportedly now blocking residents and activists from reaching the area.

Far-right Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir of the nationalist Jewish Power party arrived at the scene this morning. He had said earlier that he intended to participate in the planting even though this is supposed to be a year of rest for the land, according to Jewish tradition. Ben-Gvir tweeted that in order to "save the Negev," he got special permission to plant from prominent pro-settler Rabbi Dov Lior. Upon arrival, Ben Gvir was turned away from the site by authorities, and eventually planted one tree a significant distance from Sawa.

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