Israel razes Palestinian village in Negev for 90th time

Officials directed bulldozers to destroy the homes of Bedouin villagers in al-Araqib, who return each time to rebuild.

Women, residents of the Umm Al-Hiran, a Bedouin village which is not recognised by the Israeli government, hold banners during a protest in Israel''s southern Negev desert
Palestinian women protest against home demolitions in the 'unrecognised villages' of Israel's Negev region [Reuters]

Israeli authorities have demolished a Bedouin village in the Negev region in the country’s south for the 90th time since 2010. 

Accompanied by heavily armed police officers, officials showed up in Araqib on Wednesday morning and bulldozers rolled through the remaining homes, according to local media. 

Israel-Palestine: The conflict and the coverage – Listening Post (Full)

Araqib is one of more than 40 “unrecognised” villages scattered across the Negev region. 

An estimated 80,000 Bedouin Palestinians who carry Israeli citizenship live in the communities, which are often denied state services, including water, electricity, rubbish pick-up and education facilities, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. 

The Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights estimates that 22 families made up of 110 people live in Araqib. The villagers return and rebuild after each demolition. 

“Israel plans on putting a forest in the place of their homes,” Majd Kayyal, Adalah’s media coordinator, told Al Jazeera.

Israel claims the villagers’ homes were built without permits, while locals say they were placed on the land after being displaced from their original villages during Israel’s establishment in 1948. 

RELATED: How does Israel stop Palestinians from protesting?

“They continue storming the village to demolish it and evict its residents,” he said. 

An Israeli police spokesman was not available for comment on the demolition. 

A diverse community of Muslims, Christians, and Druze, an estimated 1.7 million Palestinians carry Israeli citizenship and live in communities across the country.

Adalah has documented more than 50 discriminatory laws that target Palestinian citizens of Israel by stifling their political expression and limiting their access to state resources, notably land. 

‘Ongoing escalation’

Yousef Jabareen, a legislator in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and member of the Joint List, a political alliance of four Arab-dominated parties in Israel, said that the “demolition of al-Araqib is ongoing escalation against our community”. 

“Instead of adopting policies of equal allocation of resources and responding to the special socioeconomic needs of the Arab community [in Israel], Israeli leaders – including [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu – continue to increase these harsh, discriminatory policies,” he told Al Jazeera. 

The demolition comes at a time of soaring unrest, with Israeli forces clashing with Palestinians as anti-occupation protests spread in Israel, the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip with increasing frequency. 

Incidents between Palestinians and Israelis have surged since the start of the month, sparked by incursions by hardline Israeli groups into Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam.

RELATED: Arrests of Palestinians in Israel soar amid crackdown

Despite Netanyahu pledging to maintain the current status quo, Palestinians worry that the visits mark the first stage of an eventual plan to partition the compound into Muslim and Jewish sections.

Since October 1, Israeli forces have killed 63 Palestinians, including unarmed protesters, bystanders and suspected attackers. Nine Israelis have been killed by Palestinian attackers in stabbing or shooting incidents.

More than 100 Palestinian citizens of Israel, among them activists and minors, were arrested during a week-long span in early October, Adalah said.

After Knesset member Bassel Ghattas, a member of the Balad political party, visited Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Wednesday, Netanyahu accused him of “provocation” and said that the visit to the holy site was “only to inflame the situation”.

Follow Patrick Strickland on Twitter: @P_Strickland_

Source: Al Jazeera