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Israeli forces demolish Bedouin village in Negev for 100th time in six years

June 29, 2016 4:38 P.M. (Updated: June 29, 2016 9:41 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib on Wednesday for the second time during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and 100th time total, locals told Ma'an.

“The Israeli authorities have left us homeless after they demolished the village for 100th time," local activist Aziz Sayyah al-Tuhri said.

"Imagine that you eat sahour at 4 a.m in your house," he continued, referring to the meal Muslims who fast during Ramadan eat before dawn, "and shortly after that the house is demolished?”

“The authorities do not care about Ramadan or other times as they practice this police of displacement and uprooting, as the only language they understand is that of power and criminality," al-Tuhri said. "They want us to reach desperation and leave our land willingly.”

Fellow activist Salim al-Arakib described the demolition as "tyrannical," saying that the "criminal policy seeks to uproot us and displace us, but this policy will only make us more determined and more adamant to stay firm in the land of our fathers and grandfathers.”

Al-Araqib is one of 35 villages in the Negev desert in southern Israel that the Israeli government has deemed as “unrecognized.” According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages.

The term, which applies to many Bedouin villages throughout Israel, means that Israel is allowed to refuse residents access to the national water and electricity grids, health and educational services, and basic infrastructure.

The first demolition of al-Araqib took place almost exactly six years ago on June 27, 2010, and has been demolished 99 more times as of Wednesday.

Though Bedouins are considered citizens of Israel, the government has done nothing to ensure equal rights for residents of these villages, who have faced relentless efforts by the Israeli Land Authority to expel them from their lands in order to make room for Jewish Israeli homes.

As a result, most of al-Araqib’s residents have left over the years to neighboring towns.

The tactics used by the Israeli government against Bedouin citizens are virtually identical to the policies used in Area C -- areas under full Israeli civilian and security control according to the Oslo Accords -- of the occupied West Bank, where Palestinians lack basic services and are subject to repeated house demolitions for lacking proper permits, which Israel rarely grants.

As in 2015, the vast majority of demolitions in the West Bank took place in small Bedouin communities in Area C.

According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, more than 48,480 Palestinian homes and structures were demolished by Israel since 1967.

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