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Hundreds to protest razing of Arab village

July 30, 2010 9:19 P.M. (Updated: July 31, 2010 11:15 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Residents and supporters of the Al-Araqib village, where 35 homes were demolished on Tuesday, were preparing for demonstrators on Friday, following calls for a mass protest against the demolitions.

Residents say 250 men, women and children were left homeless by the move, when Israeli tractors accompanied by an estimated 1,500 police officers entered the Bedouin village and destroyed homes it said were built illegally.

Protesters will demand recognition of Bedouin villages across the Negev, many of which existed before the state of Israel, but go without access to water, electricity and medical services.

"It is difficult to describe the pain and horror when such force is used to destroy your roof. The helplessness. The forces arrived before dawn, at 5:30am. By 9:00am the meager dwellings were all just piles of rubble," protest organizers said of the demolition incident.

Protest groups say a new governmental plan to recognize some Bedouin villages "includes the erasure and resettlement of at least half of the unrecognized villages, concentrating the population into a handful of to-be recognized other villages."

Organizers said they were worried that the demolitions in Al-Araqib were only the first wave of displacements and warned that without action, more would come.
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