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Israel demolishes al-Araqib village buildings for 80th time

Jan. 14, 2015 8:09 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 17, 2015 9:57 A.M.)
BEERSHEBA (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities on Wednesday demolished a number of steel structures belonging to Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Negev-region village of al-Araqib for the 80th time in a row.

Israeli bulldozers, escorted by Israeli police forces, also demolished an illegal building in the industrial area of Rahat, also in southern Israel.

Both towns are populated primarily by Palestinian Bedouins with Israeli citizenship, and al-Araqib in particular has been targeted repeatedly since 2010 for demolition by authorities.

Israel considers al-Araqib and most other Arab villages in the Negev illegal, while Bedouins say it is their ancestral land and that they have a right to live in the area.

Residents of al-Araqib have repeatedly fled into their village cemetery and lived there after Israeli authorities bulldozed parts of the town, since they had been assured the cemetery would not be destroyed.

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.

Al-Araqib is among some of the 40 Negev villages Israeli authorities have deemed unrecognized, arguing that the 53,000 Palestinian Bedouins living there cannot prove land ownership.

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