by Jonathan Cook in al-Araqib
security forces destroyed a Bedouin village this week for the second
time in a matter of days, leaving 300 inhabitants homeless again after
they and dozens of Jewish and Arab volunteers had begun rebuilding the
rights groups warned that these appeared to be the opening shots in a
long-threatened campaign by the Israeli government to begin mass forced
removals of tens of thousands of Bedouin from their ancestral lands in
the southern Negev.
High Follow-Up Committee, the main political body for Israel’s Arab
minority, vowed this week to help rebuild the village for a second time
and said it would call on the UN to investigate Israel’s treatment of
Araqib village, which is a few kilometres north of the Negev’s main
city Beersheva, has become a symbol of the struggle by about 90,000
Bedouin to win recognition for dozens of communities the government
claims are built on state land.
a test case before the Israeli courts, an inhabitant of al Araqib has
been presenting documents and expert testimony to show his ancestors
owned and lived on the village’s lands many decades before Israel’s
establishment in 1948. The judge is expected to rule within months.
down an entire village and leaving its inhabitants homeless without
exhausting all other options for settling longstanding land claims is
outrageous,” said Joe Stork, the deputy Middle East director of Human
force of 1,500 police, including a special riot squad wearing black
balaclavas, entered the village early on Wednesday to pull down a dozen
wooden shacks and a half-built concrete home. The local Aturi tribe had
been in the process of rebuilding the village after it was razed by
bulldozers a week earlier.
Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.
The Israeli forces also uprooted 850 olive trees, said Ortal Tzabar, a spokeswoman for the government’s Land Administration.
Adalah, a legal group for Israel’s 1.3 million Arab citizens, demanded a
criminal investigation into what it called “police brutality” during
both demolition operations.
Zaher, a lawyer, said assaults on villagers, confiscation of their
property and the security forces’ decision to cover their faces and not
wear identity tags were all designed to “instil fear” in the residents.
a-Sanaa, a Bedouin member of the Israeli parliament who was left
unconscious on Wednesday after police dragged him from a tent in which
he was staging a protest, warned that the government was risking “an
uprising in the Negev”.
Six village leaders were arrested shortly afterwards when they refused to sign a paper committing not to return to al Araqib.
Abu Freih, a village spokesman, said they remained defiant. “The
authorities want to break our connection to this land so it can be
turned over to Jews. They can keep destroying, but we will continue
rebuilding. We will not leave.”
first demolition of the village, late last month, came shortly after
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned his cabinet that the growth of
the country’s Arab minority, already a fifth of the population, posed a
“palpable threat” to the state’s Jewishness.
effect could be that different elements will demand national rights
within Israel – for example, in the Negev – if we allow for a region
without a Jewish majority.”
month the government announced a $50 million assistance programme to
encourage army personnel to relocate to Jewish communities in the Negev.
Bedouin’s increasing assertiveness about their indigenous status, which
is backed by international groups, has led to a backlash from
officials, who regularly refer to the Bedouin as “squatters” and
“invaders” of state land.
Baruch of Bimkom, an Israeli planning rights group, said a master plan
currently being approved for the metropolitan area of Beersheva required
“more house demolitions and more forced removals of the Bedouin
population”, such as occurred at al-Araqib.
In addition, she said, the authorities had approved a special operation known as “Hot Wind” to carry out the demolitions.
government’s conflict with the Bedouin dates back to Israel’s founding,
when most of the Negev’s population were driven out of the new state.
the highest birth rate in Israel, the surviving tribes have grown
rapidly and now number 180,000, more than a quarter of the Negev’s
population despite waves of state-sponsored Jewish migration.
has refused to recognise most of the Bedouin’s traditional communities
and insists they move into seven deprived townships built by the
government several decades ago. Only about half have done so, with the
rest insisting on their right to continue with their pastoral way of
has become a particular point of friction because most of the Aturi
moved into a nearby township, Rahat, in the 1970s, after their lands had
been declared a closed military zone.
faced with severe overcrowding in Rahat and no new land for expansion,
many young families began moving back to al-Araqib a decade ago.
45 other unrecognised villages, al Araqib is denied all services,
including water and electricity, and its buildings are illegal.
recent government commission found that tens of thousands of Bedouin
buildings are subject to demolition orders, though until now individual
buildings have been targeted, not whole communities.
month the Beersheva planning committee approved a scheme to recognise
13 Bedouin villages and force the other inhabitants into the townships.
that plan, al Araqib’s lands are designated for a “peace forest” –
funded by an international Zionist organisation, the Jewish National
Fund – a move Mr Abu Freih said was designed to prevent the villagers’
Ms Baruch said the authorities were demanding the inhabitants move to Rahat, even though no homes were provided for them.
Abu Freih said other parts of the tribe’s lands nearby had been
secretly settled by Jews in 2004. In a night-time operation JNF and
government officials set up caravans that subsequently became an
exclusively Jewish known as Givat Bar.
2002, Israel began a policy of annually spraying herbicide on
al-Araqib’s crops, in an attempt to move them off the land, until the
supreme court deemed the practice illegal in 2007.
Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest
books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the
Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing
Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His
website is www.jkcook.net.