Israel razes Bedouin village for ninth time

Jan 16

RAMALLAH: The Israeli Lands Administration (ILA) inspectors backed by large police forces on Sunday demolished the unrecognized Bedouin village of Al-Araqib for the ninth time in recent months.

The village, which is located in the southern Negev Desert, was demolished for the eighth time in on late December, but as in previous instances, it was immediately rebuild.

Awwad Abu Freih, the spokesman of the Al-Araqib’s village committee, said that the Israeli police used force to evict the residents from their homes and corrugated iron roofed dwellings. Abu Freih added that the Israeli bulldozers then began the demolition process. He said the Israeli forces declared the area a closed military zone and prevented journalists from entering it to cover the demolition.

Abu Freih added that three residents were wounded during the violent clashes that erupted in the village after the demolition of the homes. He said that the three were evacuated to the Soroka University Medical Center in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.

He added that several residents were arrested by the Israeli police. The official said the “Israeli interior ministry’s employees confiscated the ingredients of the homes and transferred them to unknown locations.”

He noted the Israeli forces “ruined everything we built and left nothing. It’s a big disgrace.”

According to the official, the “demolition aims at establishing farms for Jewish residents of Givot Bar settlement at the expense of the village residents.”

He added that the demolition is message from the Israeli government that it will not recognize the village.

“All attempts to uproot the citizens from their communities constitutes a serious insult to all Bedouins and will ultimately fail,” Abu Freih stressed.

The Arab Member of Israeli Member of Knesset Talab El-Sana said “the demolition operations lead to unrest and disobedience in the Arab sector in general, and the Negev in particular. We are victims of the State of Israel.”

El-Sana, of the United Arab List party, said that the government of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is “crossing of red lines” and “declaring war on the Arab citizens.”

He warned that the “Israeli usage of violence against Arab citizens instead of dialogue will lead to new circles of violence in the area.”

El-Sana vowed the demolished village would be reconstructed, adding that “the only solution is recognition, not displacement; issuing building permits, not demolition.”

Volunteers from the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee and several political activists had helped the villagers of Al-Araqib rebuild their homes every time the Israeli authorities demolish them. The activists said that they will continue to rebuild structures in the village.

The ILA stressed that the demolitions were carried our legally and according to a court order that determined the residents invaded an area that were not theirs, and did not act in good faith.

The Israeli police claim they were taking measures to charge the residents of Al-Araqib with demolition expenses, which were incurred by the Israeli government and estimated at millions of Israeli shekels.

The police added it was cooperating with the southern district prosecutor and planned to take civil action against the residents.

The ILA said the evacuation Bedouins was conducted after many years of legal — and physical — battles against the A-Touri tribe. The ILA said the A-Touri tribe invaded the area, which is state land, in 1998 and in 2000 a court order was handed down banning them from entering the area. But the tribe moved in and planted trees. The ILA offered to rent them the land at a price of 2 Israeli shekel per dunam, but they refused to pay.

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