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Negev Bedouin mosque facing imminent demolition by Israeli government

Nov. 17, 2008 4:26 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 17, 2008 4:26 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Israeli government is planning to demolish a recently built environmentally-sustainable Bedouin mosque in the Negev desert in the coming days.

The Israeli Ministry of the Interior delivered the demolition order for the mud and straw bale structure in the village of Wadi Al-Na'am on Monday. A stop-construction order was issued in August.

Rebecca Vilkomerson, of the Bedouin rights and environmental organization BUSTAN said the demolition would likely take place before Thursday.

The group is organizing local and international volunteers to stay in the mosque day and night in order to protest and document the destruction of the building.

"We can't stop the bulldozers unfortunately but we want to be there and witness the demolition," said Vilkomerson.

Local Bedouins and volunteers helped build the Mosque over four months as a demonstration of inexpensive and environmentally sound construction techniques. Mahmoud Jarbeau, a Bedouin resident of Wadi Al-Na'am oversaw the construction.

In an interview with Ma'an in August, Jarbeau said he would rebuilt the Mosque if it is demolished.

Wadi Al-Na'am is one of 45 unrecognized Bedouin villages in Israel, home to a total of 84,000 people, that lack basic services including water, electricity, health care, and schools. Rendered retroactively 'illegal' by a 1965 law, houses and other structures in the unrecognized villages face a near-constant threat of demolition.

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