Israeli bulldozers, accompanied by police forces, raided the Arab Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb in the Negev region this morning and demolished it for the 119th time.
Residents said: “Police officers and the destructive Yoav Unit protected the bulldozers and the machines and secured the new demolition operation disregarding the displacement of the population despite the bad weather.”
Al-Araqeeb was last demolished on 14 September, 2017, when police arrested village leader Sheikh Sayah Al-Turi and released him after several hours of investigation.
“Bulldozers destroyed the houses of the people of Al-Araqeeb village and land was swept away. The authorities are escalating and accelerating the demolition crimes to intimidate citizens and push them to leave their land and emigrate,” Aziz Sayah Al-Turi, an activist and resident of Al-Araqeeb, told Arab48.
He added: “Police forces are always trying to provoke us and the Israeli Government tries to make us appear before the courts as aggressors and law violators.”
We insist that all the demolition operations do not frighten us and will not deter us from rebuilding our houses and remaining on our homeland.
“What kind of humanity is this? What kinds of people are those who are silent and do not react to the demolition of Al-Araqeeb village for the 119th time? Who will accept his house to be destroyed and his children driven out of his land?”
Al-Turi called on everyone to stand by the people of Al-Araqeeb, saying that they are continuing their fight and struggling to ensure a decent living without fear of demolitions.
On 6 September, Al-Turi was convicted of all the charges he faced including 18 offences of “assault on public property”.
Al-Araqeeb is one of 51 Arab villages in the Negev the Israeli occupation authorities do not recognise and has been targeted for demolition ahead of building homes for new Jewish communities.
Israel has imposed fines on the villagers of Al-Araqeeb worth millions of dollars, Quds Press said, and charges them for the use of the Israeli bulldozers which carry out the demolition of their homes.
Israeli courts decide that the owners of the unlicensed homes must demolish them, but when they fail to do so, Israeli bulldozers carry out the demolitions and the owners are ordered to pay for the bulldozers.
In 1969, Israel called on Arab land owners to register their land with the authorities, but since then they have not accepted any of the applications made by Arab residents of the Negev.