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Israel continues demolition campaign on Palestinian homes in Negev

Dec. 27, 2016 8:13 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 28, 2016 3:14 P.M.)
NEGEV (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces Tuesday demolished a Palestinian-owned home in the Bedouin village of Qasr al-Ser in the Negev of southern Israel in the continuation of what locals have said is retaliation for the impending demolition of the illegal Israeli Amona outpost in the occupied West Bank.

Locals told Ma’an that the home belonged to Youssef Hussein al-Hawashleh.

The Higher Guidance Committee for Arab Residents of Negev said in a statement that Israeli forces are demolishing homes in several villages in the Negev in order to implement Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to Israeli settlers of Amona to demolish dozens of Arab (Palestinian) homes in retaliation for the upcoming demolition of the illegal Israeli outpost.

Secretary of committee Said al-Kharrumi said that “all this destruction and despicable racism will not break the will of our people and we will remain in our villages and on our lands.”

Earlier this month, Netanyahu released a video to address settlers of the Amona outpost, assuring them that he would commit to “enforcing laws” on “illegal construction” in Israel, referring primarily to Palestinian communities that are often forced to build without Israeli-issued building permits.

The Israeli government has also allocated 130 million shekels ($34 million) to cover the costs of evacuating Amona, including 40 million shekels to personally compensate the settler families, who are being moved to a nearby hilltop where another settlement will be built for them on privately-owned Palestinian land.

On Sunday, the Higher Guidance Committee for Arab Residents of Negev organized two marched in the Negev region to protest the ongoing demolition campaign targeting Palestinian homes in the area, especially during winter when families are left homeless in the cold weather.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Israeli forces demolished the "unrecognized" al-Araqib Bedouin village in the Negev for the 107th time.

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages. However, while many demolitions target unrecognized villages, Qasr al-Ser was officially recognized by the Israeli state in 2003 after decades of being considered “illegal.”

Most Bedouin villages were established in the Negev soon after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war following the creation of the state of Israel when many were forcibly transferred to the village sites during the 17-year period when Palestinians inside Israel were governed under Israeli military law, which ended shortly before Israel's military takeover of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967.

Rights groups have claimed that the demolitions in Bedouin villages is a central Israeli policy aimed at removing the indigenous Palestinian population from the Negev and transferring them to government-zoned townships to make room for the expansion of Jewish Israeli communities.

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