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Israel destroys Bedouin village in Negev for 97th time

April 19, 2016 1:45 P.M. (Updated: April 19, 2016 8:21 P.M.)
NEGEV (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces on Tuesday destroyed the unrecognized Bedouin community of al-Araqib in the Negev for the 97th time in a row, amid a record-high wave of demolitions to be carried out by Israel this year.

Al-Araqib resident Salim Abu Mdeighem told Ma’an that riot police from Israel’s Yasam unit raided the community before securing the entrance of two bulldozers that carried out the demolitions.

An estimated 110 Bedouins live in the community, frequently targeted by longstanding Israeli policy to forcibly remove indigenous Bedouin from the Negev in Israel’s south.

Aziz al-Tawri, an al-Araqib local, told Ma'an following Tuesday’s demolitions that the Israeli authorities have continually demanded the community leave the area, charging the village 50,000 NIS ($13,256) for each day they remain on their own land.

Al-Araqib residents are among around 160,000 Bedouins who reside in communities that Israel has refused to recognized since its establishment in 1948, and attempted to forcibly relocate to government-planned urban developments that disregard the communities’ lifestyle.

Despite being Israeli citizens, the Israeli government denies unrecognized communities basic services including infrastructure, electricity, or running water, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

Following Israel’s demolition of a Bedouin mosque in the Negev earlier this year, Palestinian member of Knesset Talal Abu Arar slammed Israel, saying that despite collecting taxes from the communities, "Israeli authorities demolish their homes and close the doors of livelihoods in their faces."

Similar to Israeli policy against Bedouins living in the occupied West Bank, non-Jewish locals are frequently told by the authorities their property is being destroyed due to the the lack of proper permits.

In the occupied West Bank, Israeli authorities approved less than six percent of Palestinian building permit requests between 2000 and 2012, according to Human Rights Watch, which said that Israel’s zoning and demolition policies effectively amount to forcible transfer.

Over 800 Palestinians have now been displaced since the start of 2016 due to the demolition of more than 500 structures in the occupied West Bank by the Israeli authorities, according to UN figures.

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