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NGOs condemn proposed Israeli railway in the Negev

August 23, 2017 at 2:03 pm

Israeli bulldozers being transported to a Palestinian village in the Negev on August 2016 [Maannews]

Two human rights organisations denounced Israel’s plans for a railway line in the Negev Desert in a joint statement on Monday, asserting that it will destroy the lives of some 50,000 Palestinian residents, Ma’an news agency has reported.

Israeli NGO Bimkon and Palestinian human rights group Adalah filed papers against the proposed Beer Sheva-Avad railway earlier this month, demanding that the authorities explore alternative routes. The current proposal would see almost 1,200 acres of Palestinian land seized in order to lay the track.

The groups reported that the plan would “destroy the lives of hundreds of families, their homes and their economic investments, and harm their societal and tribal lifestyles.” The route would primarily affect those residing in the villages of Al-Furaa, Al-Kseifeh, Al-Buhireh, Al-Mazraa, Al-Katmaat and Al-Azeh.

Read: Israel demolishes Palestinian homes to expand settlements

Bimkon and Adalah also suggested an alternative route which would bypass residential areas using land that is “entirely empty” of buildings. “The shift would greatly reduce the damage to the existing infrastructure and human fabric,” the NGOs pointed out.

Israeli occupation forces regularly demolish homes in the Negev province and refuse to recognise some 50 Palestinian villages in the area. Earlier this month, Israeli soldiers bulldozed the village of Al-Araqeeb for the 116th time after refusing to accept its existence.