Bedouin Children Deeply Traumatised by Home Demolitions
by Karen Douglas
Karen Douglas is a Resource Development Coordinator, Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality – an affiliate of Children of Peace. The pictures shown in this article are taken by Bedouin children, caught up in the traumatic demolition of their village community.
published on childrenofpeace
In recent months, the Israeli government has intensified its campaign to demolish the homes of Arab-Bedouins in the Negev desert region of Israel on the grounds that they were illegally built. One village in particular, Al Arakib, has become the symbol of the ongoing land dispute between the government and its Bedouin citizens having been completely demolished a total of eight times since July 27, 2010.
The small village with over 100 children was razed to the ground by bulldozers each time during early dawn-before the children had left for school. Additionally, the most recent demolition was carried out just one day before the children were to begin a two-week vacation.
The human cost of the demolitions on the residents has been extensive and the most vulnerable, the women, elderly and children, have suffered disproportionately from the government's actions. The violent destruction of one's home by a small army of police in full riot gear has predictably had painful ramifications on the mental health of the children.
Many have been visibly traumatised, however, the full extent of their emotional and psychological distress is probably not yet apparent.Additionally, the demolitions have led also to considerable physical hardship and impoverishment as the families are unable to retrieve any of their personal belongings.
The desert is bitterly cold at night in winter and there is now neither heating nor hot water in their temporary makeshift shacks thus increasing the risk of illness amongst the children.
Alia Salim Abu Madigam, age 14, tells us in her own words about the demolitions (translated from Arabic):
“The village Al Arakib was blooming like a flower in spring, the white houses sparkled like pearls in light, the children were cheerful and happy with smiles on their faces, we lived in happiness and prosperity. In the morning when the sun rose and the dew had not parted, the leaves on the trees sparkled like gems, the birds chirped and the hens clucked waking you up and signalling a new day. In short, our village was part of paradise.
All this ended when the police and the authority decided to ruin the dream and turn it into a nightmare. Our houses demolished, trees uprooted, smiles disappeared, the joy turned to grief, the birds left us because there is no place to nest, the hens trampled under the ruins, and the village became something else.I hope and pray we will return to those days, rebuild our village and go on with our lives as we love life.”