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Negev activist: Prison better than displacement

Aug. 27, 2013 11:44 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 28, 2013 3:07 P.M.)
BEERSHEBA (Ma'an) -- A prominent activist in the Negev village of al-Araqib said Tuesday that he would rather stay in prison than be displaced from his village.

Sayah al-Touri was arrested on Monday with three other activists from the Bedouin village, which has been repeatedly demolished by Israeli forces.

"Prison is better for me than being deported away from al-Araqib," he said via his lawyer.

Several of the villagers detained by Israel were told by police that they would be released on condition that they didn't go back to al-Araqib.

All of them refused the offer.

Israeli authorities demolished the village of al-Araqib for the 54th time on Aug. 15.

There are about 260,000 Bedouin in Israel, mostly living in and around the Negev in the arid south. More than half live in unrecognized villages without utilities and many also live in extreme poverty.

The Israeli government in January approved the Prawer-Begin Bill, calling for the relocation of 30,000 - 40,000 Bedouin, the demolition of about 40 villages and the confiscation of more than 700,000 dunums of land in the Negev.

It was approved by parliament in a first reading in June, and two more votes on it are expected.
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