Israeli police and Bedouin clash in tree-planting protests

Israel: Israeli police and Bedouin protesters clashed on Thursday (Friday in Manila) in the latest unrest over a tree-planting project in the Negev desert, a day after authorities appealed for compromise, Agence France-Presse journalists said. Protesters have held a series of demonstrations in recent days over the environmental scheme in southern Israel’s arid desert region, posing a thorny challenge for the fragile coalition government. Bedouin, who are part of Israel’s 20 percent Arab minority, have long opposed tree-planting initiatives in the Negev, blasting them as a de facto government land grab in areas they call home. “Police dispersed the demonstrators who blocked a road in the Negev and threw stones at the police,” the security forces said in a statement. Thirteen people were arrested in the events, the statement added. Nearly half of Israel’s 300,000 Bedouin live in unrecognized villages in the Negev.