In the middle of January 2022, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) embarked on a project to displace Palestinians living in Bedouin communities in the Naqab desert. In the guise of a forestation program, they are preventing Palestinians from accessing their land. The displacement initiative by the JNF led to large-scale protests and mass-arrests of Palestinians seeking to protect the land they have been cultivating for decades. 

From January 10 to 15, the JNF planted trees in the Naqab desert on land cultivated by the Bedu near Hura. As the forestation was underway, Palestinians protesting the displacement were violently dispersed by Israeli police, leading to many injuries and more than 130 arrests. Days after the tree-planting ended and the protests subsided, another 30 Palestinians – accused of having partaken in the protests – were arrested during house raids on January 18. 

The displacement-through-forestation program also led to a crisis in the Israeli governing coalition, as the United Arab List (UAL) boycotted sessions in the Israeli parliament on January 12 and threatened to leave the bloc. Labor Minister Meir Cohen and UAL leader Mansour Abbas later came to an understanding that future JNF projects must be done in consultation with coalition partners.

Simultaneously, and perhaps related, Palestinians living in the Naqab complained that they had been experiencing a two-week-long electricity outage. In a recorded conversation between an Israeli Electricity Company representative and a Naqab resident, the representative is heard saying that the authorities were preventing them from addressing the situation – a claim the Israeli police denied. 

This featured entry for the newly released month of January 2022 focuses on how Israel through the Jewish National Fund use greenwashing to divert from its displacement of Palestinians living in Israel.