The Bedouin village of Al-Arakib, visited by a CPT delegation on July 25, was demolished at 5:30 a.m. on July 27. Authorities arrived with around 1500 Israeli police armed with tear gas, a water cannon, dozens of vehicles, two helicopters and five bulldozers. Within three hours all the homes and outbuildings, as well as the village’s water supply and hundreds of olive trees, were demolished.
Before the demolition, Israeli and Palestinian allies to the Bedouins got word out to Jewish activists for support of the Bedouins, who are Israeli citizens, in protest to the demolition. One hundred and fifty activists along with some large news organizations including BBC, Al-Jezeera and Ynet were witnesses to this atrocity.
The demolition has left 300 Bedouins, mainly children, homeless; but as soon as the police left they began rebuilding their homes. Shlomo Tziser, an official with the Land Administrator’s southern district, was quoted in local media as saying, “Should the Bedouins return we’ll do it again.”
A July 15 demolition order had given Al Arakib residents 30 days to leave their village or be forcibly evicted. Bedouins whose houses had been demolished on other occasions reported demolitions occurring in time frames shorter than those in the legal notices.
About 160,000 Bedouins currently live in the Negev. Fifty percent live in townships created by the government in the 1960s in an effort to remove the traditionally agricultural people from ancestral lands and relocate tribes into small, contained communities in order to transfer ownership to the State. Some of the land is given to Jewish families for farming; some simply reverts to State possession.
More information about the Negev’s Bedouin people and their struggle for survival is available from the Negev Coexistence Forum (www.dukium.org).