This morning (27.07.2010), Israeli forces embarked on the total destruction of al-Araqeeb village in the Negev desert. The village was cordoned off and its inhabitants expelled before demolitions began. All 45 homes in the village were bulldozed and the village itself has been was wiped from existence.
Al-Araqeeb, one of an approximate 45 other such villages, had existed in the Negev long before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. However, under Israeli law, it was 'unrecognised' and therefore considered an illegal settlement. It was under this pretext that this atrocity has been carried out.
According the Palestinian Information Centre, eyewitness accounts state that the village was surrounded by thousands of Israeli soldiers in an effort to conceal the mass expulsion and wanton destruction. Air cover was also provided by the police.
Talab al-Sana, the parliamentary representative for the Negev region, has fiercely condemned this act of aggression by the Israeli authorities. Al-Sana is currently in London as a guest of the Middle East Monitor to discuss the current Israeli campaign of persecution and intimidation of Arab Israelis and particularly, the efforts to criminalise Arab political activity by delegitimising the community's democratically elected representatives. Al-Sana and his colleagues have recently come under fire and have been targeted and threatened with exile and with being stripped of their parliamentary privileges.
Observers have warned that the government decision to demolish al-Araqeeb is indicative of its intention to step up efforts to Judaise the Negev by emptying it of its indigenous inhabitants and destroying all of the remaining 45 'unrecognised' villages. Israeli treatment of its Arab citizens is now comparable to its treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and the fears are that this latest human rights abuse could ignite civil unrest.