The deputy head of the Islamic Movement in the 1948-Occupied Territories (Israel) has said that Israel's current targeting of the Palestinians in the Negev is "part of the displacement scheme which has been ongoing since the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948".
According to Sheikh Kamal Al Khatib, Israel aims to "empty the Negev of its indigenous people and replace them with Jews". This policy is part of the overall Judaisation of the area initiated by Israeli President Shimon Peres. Sheikh Al Khatib told the media that the Palestinians "are the legitimate owners of the land, and their presence preceded Israel's existence by thousands of years". He added that even the villages which the Israelis say are "unrecognised", are each "more than 200 years old".
The Israeli position on the Negev is primarily settlement-oriented. The Palestinians, said Sheikh Al Khatib, have "legal, moral and religious rights" over the land.
Speaking in the wake of a strike by Palestinian citizens across Israel, Al Khatib also noted that all Palestinians know that they are targeted by the Israeli government: "Our strike and demonstration on Monday was the reiteration of our rejection of displacement and Jewish settlement policies," he said. "The resilience of the people of the Negev is the resilience of us all." He referred to the residents of Al-Araqeeb village, which has been demolished by the Israel government 32 times and rebuilt on each occasion.