El Araqib: Repeated demolitions of the village, arrests and police brutality
Repeated demolitions of the village, arrests and police brutality, in order to seize the land, displace the residents, and destroy the community’s resistance to these policies
Yesterday, Monday February 7th was the 13th time over the last six months that the Israeli Government entirely destroyed the village of El-Araqib. This demolition comes just one week after the last total demolition of the village.
It is difficult to describe in words the brutality involved in these ongoing demolitions. Last week, there were three days of rain in the Negev, an event of great joy. But it was in this rain that the residents of the village of El-Araqib had to see their shelters demolished, and in this rain and mud that they attempted to re-erect new shelters, only to have them destroyed once more less than a day later, and then again the following week. Children, women – all suffer through this ongoing violence and brutality of the government. During the repeated demolitions of the village the police forces have been using excess brutality: beating of human rights activists, and arrests of many without cause, both community members and supporters.
The goal of the government is to ensure that the village of El-Araqib will be erased. But it is more than that. The Government of Israel wishes to expropriate as much land as possible from Arabs and transfer it to Jewish ownership. The government has implemented many different policies to achieve this goal in the West Bank and in Israel.
This is the government’s logic behind the policy of non-recognition of the Bedouin villages in the Negev: with non-recognition, there is no procedure the villagers can follow in order to receive building permits for houses in their villages, thus making all their homes “illegal” and subject to demolition. Thus, half the Bedouin community, 90,000 citizens of Israel, live in homes that are under the threat of demolitions. The government’s goal is to “convince” the population to relocate into governmentally created towns, thus forfeiting their lands, their source of living, their traditions, community, and social stability. Not surprisingly the Bedouins so far have not been convinced. Using these building laws as their pretext, the government of Israel has demolished hundreds of homes in the Bedouin villages every year, and has prevented access to infrastructure and services, such as water and schooling.
The government of Israel has prepared and is ready to implement a plan to end “the Bedouin problem”. The plan calls for the recognition of several of the 45 unrecognized villages, concentration of the villagers within a fraction of their lands, and erasure of at least 20 villages, transferring the population into the governmental towns and the other concentrated villages. Now the problem the government faces is convincing the population to this process of dispossession. The brutality displayed against the village of El Araqib is the way in which the government is attempting to convince the population that it is better off “cooperating” with the government in its plans.
This is why it is vital that the government of Israel fail in its attempt to erase El-Araqib, dispossess the people of the village, seize the lands and displace its people. Once the people of El Araqib give in – another 20 villages are to be given the same treatment.
also published on ICAHD