Around 50 people have been affected by the demolition of the Bedouin village of al-‘Araqib in the Negev in southern Israel. Over half of the people affected by this policy of home demolition are children, who have now seen their village destroyed by Israeli authorities 8 times in the last 6 months.
On 23rd December officials of the Israel Land Administration and the Green Patrol arrived with two bulldozers and accompanied by 20 police vans, and destroyed approximately 30 makeshift tents which villagers have been living in since the earlier demolitions. Also, a water tank and a lorry used to carry the tank to collect water from local supplies were confiscated. The villagers do not have access to services such as electricity and water.
The inhabitants are determined to stay in their village and rebuild their homes, and are now attempting to rebuild with the help of supporters in the Negev Coexistence Forum (NCF) and other groups.
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The al-‘Araqib village is one of more than 40 ‘unrecognised’ Palestinian villages in Israel, despite the residents’ Israeli citizenship and long-established claims to their lands.
The al-‘Araqib village was first demolished on 27 July 2010 when residents were evicted by over 1,000 riot police officers, at least 46 homes and other structures, such as animal pens and water tanks were destroyed. Thousands of olive and other trees were also uprooted, destroying the villagers’ livelihood.
Following this makeshift shelters, tents and other structures which the villagers were living in or keeping livestock in were again destroyed on 4th and 10th August, 17th August, 12th September, 13th October, 2nd November and then for the eighth time on 23rd December.
In July 2010 the UN Human Rights Committee stated its concerns and called for the Israeli authorities to ‘respect the Bedouin population’s right to their ancestral land and their traditional livelihood based on agriculture’ and to ‘guarantee the Bedouin population’s access to health structures, education, water and electricity, irrespective of their whereabouts’ in Israel. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has also expressed concern about Israel’s relocation of Bedouin residents of ‘unrecognized’ villages to towns and called for their villages to be officially recognized, and for Israel to ‘enhance its efforts to consult’ the villagers and seek their agreement or consent in advance of any process of relocation.
However, despite an apparent government plan to regularize the status of some of the ‘unrecognized’ villages, it was reported in the Israeli media in early 2010 that the Interior Ministry, the Israel Land Administration and the policw had decided to triple the demolition rate of Bedouin construction in the Negev, and this appears to be demonstrated by the marked increase in the number of demolitions and demolition orders.
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