Israeli forces have demolished the village of Al-Araqeeb in the occupied Negev desert for the 135th time, local sources reported yesterday.
Al-Araqeeb’s residents told Arab48 that Israeli bulldozers, reinforced and protected by the occupation forces, stormed the village and proceeded to demolish all the Palestinian houses and tents there, displacing women and children despite the “cold weather and rain”.
After the demolition was completed, the residents added, Israeli forces arrested four of the village’s inhabitants, including Sheikh Al-Araqeeb, Sheikh Sayah Al-Turi, Aziz Sabah and his wife, and Selim Mohammed Abu Medegham, for allegedly “obstructing the work of police and the demolition crews”.
The locals explained that the detainees were transferred by occupation forces to a detention centre for interrogation.
Earlier this week, scores of Palestinians, including officials, demonstrated in support of Al-Araqeeb.
The Negev village of Al-Araqeeb was first razed in 2010 under pretexts that it was built without the needed licenses. The last demolition was carried out earlier this month.
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.