Women, Children of Bedouin Village El Araqib Beaten as they Silently Protest 16th Demolition of their Homes

Tania Kepler

AIC, February 10, 2011

Women and children of the Bedouin village of Al Araqib were beaten and gassed by Israel forces Thursday morning (10/2), in an attempt to halt the 16th demolition of their homes and property.

 

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Demolitions in El Araqib this morning (photo courtesty of Negev Coexistence Forum)

 

Israeli forces and Jewish National Fund workers entered the Bedouin village and again destroyed the residents homes, and continued preparing the land for the planting of a “peace forest”.

 

When residents and activists attempted to halt their work, JNF workers and Israeli police fought back with force. The men in the village were held or detained while the women and children stood before the police and bulldozers and did not allow them to pass, all the while waving their Israeli identification cards as an expression of their trampled civil rights. The police attacked them with punches and tear gas.

 

Six residents, four women and two children, were hospitalized at the Soroka hospital in Beer Sheva. Later in the day, two of the women remained hospitalized.

 

“The police harshly beat the women and children who were standing in quiet protest, they simply beat women and children…I stood alongside a woman who was beaten by four police officers, actual fists in her face, ears and neck, in addition to kicks until she almost lost consciousness…people are sitting on the ground, in the rain, and not moving, women and children. The police shot stun grenades and foam bullets directly at the women, at point blank,” reported Tamar, an activist who was present in the village.

 

Three residents were also arrested, including a sixteen year old, and two Israeli activists are being detained at the local police station.

 

“They were detentions with no legal basis. The people were arbitrarily detained…these are intentional detentions, the goal of which is to break the residents of the village and the activists who come to support them…the police are collaborating with the Jewish National Fund (JNF),” said Attorney Salem Abu Madia’am.

 

Al Araqib was destroyed for the 14th time earlier this week (8/2), as part of the aggressive JNF and Israel Land Authority attempt to claim their historic land and use it for forestation and future Jewish settlement.

 

In recent months the JNF and the Israel Land Authority (ILA) have been working to “encourage” the remaining nomadic Bedouin communities to settle in cities and stay off the land. The encouragement has come in the form of regular demolitions of Bedouin villages.

 

Israeli authorities have demolished thousands of Bedouin homes in unrecognized villages since the 1970s, many of them comprising no more than tents or shacks. In 2010 alone Israeli officials demolished hundreds of Bedouin structures. The government’s goal is that people will move from rural areas to new Bedouin cities. A growing number of families from El Araqib are moving to Rahat, in an attempt to provide stability and a better life to their traumatized children.

 

The ILA has a history of uprooting olive trees in Palestinian villages and is trying to plant forests as part of a plan to “green” the Negev desert, while making the nomadic lifestyle of the Bedouin impossible and pushing them to cities like Rahat, where employment is low and their traditional way of life impossible.

 

In order to raise awareness about the racist actions of ethnic cleansing being perpetrated by the JNF and the threatened existence of Al Araqib, activists are organizing a solidarity visit to Al Araqib on Saturday, 12 Feburary.

 

The visit will include a brief tour of the land, which has been under constant threat by Israeli authorities since July 2010. The tour will explain the forestry plans of the JNF and the effects on the residents.

 

The tour will also visit the land of Tauuel Abu Jarwal, whose property is across the road from Al Araqib, where the JNF’s forestion process is already in advanced stages.

 

Transportation is being organized from Tel Aviv and Beer Sheva:

 

Transportation will leave from Tel Aviv, Alozorov Train Station, Parking area at 9.30

 

Meeting spot in the Negev: Levahim Junction at 11.00.

 

Additional information:

Attia: 050 5702064. Yaakov: 050 5733276; Noam: 054 5203748

 

 

 

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