Israel demolishes Palestinian al-Araqib village


The Israeli occupation forces demolished on Wednesday the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Naqab desert in Southern Palestinian occupied territories, according to official Palestinian Authority (PA) owned news agency – Wafa.

This is the 120th time Israel demolishes the village. The first demolition of al-Araqib took place in June 2010.

Wafa news agency reported that the Israeli occupation police and bulldozers broke into the village and demolished all metal shelters built by its residents, following each demolishment they have had to endure since 2010. Al-Araqib is one of the 35 Bedouin villages considered “unrecognized” by Israeli authorities.

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Naqab Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages, which the Israeli occupation refuses to provide with a planning structure and location under municipal jurisdiction. ACRI explained that Israeli occupation uses a variety of measures to pressure Bedouins into relocating to other areas, disregarding their needs.

“Whole communities have been issued demolition orders; others are forced to continue living in unrecognized villages that are denied basic services and infrastructure, such as electricity and running water,” said ACRI according to Wafa.

Moreover, the Israeli occupation forces sent a demolishment notice on Tuesday to a Palestinian resident of al-Walaja village, located northeast of Palestinian city Bethlehem.

The demolishing activities serve the escalated settlement expansion plans of the Israeli occupation government approved in July. In 2013, Israel launched a mass Bedouin home eviction campaign, which Palestinians strongly resisted. Palestinians consider these Israeli acts as attempts to erase the identity and presence of several Palestinian villages. In response, they organized sit-ins and protests, as well as online campaigns to highlight the human rights violations committed by the Israeli occupation forces against Palestinians.

The Israeli occupation authorities ignored Palestinians’ demands and the government approved a legislation that discriminates against Bedouins and authorizes large-scale displacement, while severely restricting Bedouins’ ability to appeal. According to Israeli estimates, implementing the law would displace at least 30,000 Bedouins.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), 200,000 Bedouins live in southern Naqab; where the majority live in seven government-planned townships and several thousands more live in 11 Bedouin communities that Israel is in the process of “recognizing.” However, Israel’s planning documents and maps exclude 35 “unrecognized” Bedouin communities, where, according to the government’s estimates, 70,000 to 90,000 people live.
HRW explains that Israel demolishes Bedouin homes on the basis that they were built without permits. For decades, Israel refused to either legally recognize these communities or allow their residents to gain title to ancestral land.
The Israeli government rejected discussions of proposed plans submitted by groups seeking authorization for Bedouin communities, making it impossible for residents to obtain building permits. In contrast, the government takes an active role in planning and expanding Israeli communities in the region, and has retroactively authorized construction there by Israeli citizens.

Since 2013, HRW has documented the demolition of 18 Bedouin homes and 11 other structures, including eight tents where victims of previous demolitions were living. According to the organization, in one case, security forces demolished the home of a family that had two children with disabilities, without allowing their parents time to retrieve the children’s medication, hearing aids or oxygen canister.