The village leader of Al-Araqeeb has been sentenced to ten months in jail, expulsion from his home and a fine.
The Magistrate’s Court in Beersheba in the Negev fined Sheikh Sayah Al-Turi $10,300 after finding him guilty in 18 cases filed in November 2013 including trespassing on state property, in reference to land which belongs to the village.
Al-Araqeeb has been demolished by Israeli authorities 122 times.
Al-Turi refused to be released on condition of exile from Al-Araqeeb.
His lawyers plan to appeal the verdict.
His lawyer, Shehdah Ibn Bari, told Arab48: “We sense that the sentencing is connected to settlements and harassment, as the details of the sentencing stipulate that Sheikh Al-Turi evacuate his land without proving whether or not he owns the property. The essence of the sentencing provides for Al-Turi to leave his land and then fight for it from afar.”
Al-Araqeb is one of 35 “unrecognised” Bedouin villages. According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Bedouins in the Negev reside in unrecognised villages.
The unrecognised Bedouin villages were established in the Negev soon after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war following the creation of the State of Israel.
Right groups say 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 government-zoned townships to make room for the expansion of Jewish Israeli communities.