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Bedouins Charge Israel Army Pressure to Give Up Lands

Bedouins from the Pithat Rafiah region claimed today that Israeli military authorities were pressuring them to renounce their rights to the lands from which they were ousted last year. The charge was made by Sheikh Sabbah Abdallah Salima, a Bedouin chieftain who appeared at a press conference here with two members of Hashomer Hatzair kibbutzim in the Negev.

A section of the Pithat Rafiah area, near the Gaza Strip, was cordoned off last year and declared a military security zone. Bedouins inhabiting the land were evacuated from the zone and offered compensatory settlement. Salima said that his Bedouins, who are a nomadic people, were offered flats and IL 5000 compensation but rejected the offer.

He alleged that as a result, the Israeli military was harassing the tribesmen and obstructing their freedom of movement.

Minister of State at the British Foreign Office, Lord Balniel arrived in Israel for meetings with top level Israeli officials last night.

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