Israeli forces yesterday demolished the Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb in the Negev for the 113th time, and for the fifth time this year.
The head of the local committee to defend Al-Araqeeb, Aziz Al-Touri, said that Israeli bulldozers, accompanied by riot police, raided the village in the morning and destroyed the makeshift homes locals had been living in “without any consideration for their residents”.
Al-Touri explained that the owners of the demolished houses had rebuilt them last April after the Israeli forces razed them. He pointed out that the villagers return and rebuild their destroyed homes after each demolition “to emphasise their attachment to their village and lands.”
Al-Araqeeb is one of more than 35 “unrecognised” Bedouin villages across the Negev region. It is considered illegal by Israel owing to a lack of building permits. According to data from Adalah – Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights, 22 families made up of 110 people live in Al-Araqeeb.
Around 80,000 Negev Bedouins, who carry Israeli citizenship, reside in “unrecognised” 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 (ACRI).
Rights groups claim that the demolition of unrecognised Bedouin villages is a central Israeli policy aimed at removing the indigenous Palestinian population from the Negev and transferring them to townships to make room for the expansion of Jewish settlements.