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Israel demolishes Palestinian Bedouin village for 114th time

June 14, 2017 4:59 P.M. (Updated: June 15, 2017 10:43 A.M.)
A Bedouin woman sits in front of the ruins of her family house in the Bedouin village of al-Araqib on August 4, 2010. (AFP/David Buimovitch)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev region of southern Israel for the 114th time since 2010 on Wednesday morning, and for the sixth time this year, according to Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency.

Wafa quoted witnesses as saying that officials from the Israel Land Authority (ILA), accompanied by Israeli police and bulldozers, raided the village and demolished all the tin homes in the area, which were built by the village’s residents following the most recent demolition of raid last month.

An Israeli police spokesperson told Ma'an they were unaware of any incidents in al-Araqib on Wednesday.

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 Bedouins in the Negev reside in unrecognized villages.

Right groups say that the demolition of unrecognized 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.

The classification of their villages as “unrecognized” prevents Bedouins from developing or expanding their communities, while Israeli authorities have also refused to connect unrecognized Bedouin villages to the national water and electricity grids, and have excluded the communities from access to health and educational services.

Moreover, al-Araqib residents have been ordered to pay more than two million shekels (approximately $541,000) for the cumulative cost of Israeli-enforced demolitions carried out against the village since 2010.

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.

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