Clashes in Southern Israel Over JNF Tree-planting Resume

Five people have been arrested for disturbing the peace, stone-throwing and torching tires, hours after the government said future work by JNF in the Negev will be negotiated by coalition partners

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Tires torched in Tel Sheva in southern Israel.
Tires torched in Tel Sheva in southern Israel.

Clashes in southern Israel resumed Wednesday evening, with local Bedouin torching tires in protest of the Jewish National Fund's tree-planting in the Negev.

Large police forces were deployed near the Bedouin towns of Segev Shalom and Tel Sheva and protesters were dispersed with stun grenades.

Five people were arrested for disturbing the peace, stone-throwing and torching tires.

In a statement, police said that "the situation is under control. Israel Police allows the freedom of assembly and is dealing diligently and with zero tolerance towards any rioting or violence."

Earlier, the government said that future work by JNF in the Negev will be negotiated by coalition partners, in a bid to ease tensions after days of violent clashes over forestation work on the land used for agriculture by local Bedouin.

The JNF's tree-planting, which began on Monday, ended on Wednesday as planned.

The JNF's forestation plan is especially significant for the United Arab List, as Bedouin constitute a substantial portion of the party's voter base. One of its lawmakers threatened to boycott Knesset votes over the project.

Even before the current government was formed, Bedouin in the area said that the works occupy their farming zones and demanded that the plan be halted.

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