Al-Araqib is one of 35 Bedouin villages considered “unrecognized” by the Israeli state. According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages.
Demolitions targeting Palestinians with full Israeli citizenship have been the target of widespread protests
in recent weeks, after an Israeli police raid to evacuate the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran left two people killed.
While Bedouins of the Negev are Israeli citizens, the villages unrecognized by the government have faced relentless efforts by Israeli authorities to expel them from their lands in order to make room for Jewish Israeli homes.
The classification of their villages as “unrecognized” prevents Bedouins from developing or expanding their communities, as their villages are considered illegal by Israeli authorities.
Israeli authorities have also refused to connect unrecognized Bedouin villages to the national water and electricity grids, while excluding the communities from access to health and educational services, and basic infrastructure.
Indigenous rights groups have also pointed out that the transfer of the Bedouins into densely populated townships also removes them from their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyles which is dependent on access to a wide range of grazing land for their animals.
Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya released a report on the treatment of the Bedouin in the Negev back in 2011 -- shortly before the Israeli cabinet approved plans to relocate some 30,000 Bedouins from 13 unrecognized villages to government-approved townships -- stating that Bedouins in the permanent townships "rank on the bottom of all social and economic indicators and suffer from the highest unemployment rates and income levels in Israel."
The unrecognized Bedouin villages were established in the Negev soon after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war following the creation of the state of Israel.
Many of the Bedouins 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.
Now more than 60 years later, the villages have yet to be recognized by Israel and live under constant threats of demolition and forcible removal.Meanwhile, Israeli Jewish communities in the Negev continuously expand, with five new Jewish housing plans approved last year. According to an investigation undertaken by Israeli rights groups ACRI and Bimkom, two of the approved communities are located in areas where unrecognized Bedouin villages already exist.