Thursday morning, approximately 1,500 demonstrators protested against
the recent demolition of Arab homes in the unrecognized villages of the
Negev. The demonstrators marched from the Beer-Sheva Market to the
offices of the governmentally appointed Abo Basma Regional Council and
continued to the square in front of the Interior Ministry.

The speakers called home demolition a crime aimed at evacuating Arab residents from the Negev. They demanded the immediate resignation of Amram Qal'aji, the head of Abo Basma Regional Council and Dodo Cohen, the District Head, who signed the demolition orders, including many others who are involved in home demolition. They also called Abo Basma a tool in the hands of the government.

The RCUV considers the success of this demonstration a sign of the Negev Arabs' awareness and unity. It also sends a clear message to the people responsible for the demolition crimes that their acts will destroy coexistence in this region.

The demonstrators took the opportunity to condemn the Beit Hanoun massacre, that left 20 civilians dead. Some speakers said that the government kills innocent civilians and destroys homes under the pretext of law.

Mr. Hussein Al-Rafay'a, RCUV Chairperson, commented, "We would like to pay condolence to our people in Beit Hanoun, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. We all live under the threat of home demolition. The Israeli government violates our rights by demolishing our homes. We demonstrate against their home demolition policy and non-recognition of our villages. We demonstrate to put pressures on decision-makers to find salutations to our problems. The government is responsible for what is going on in the Negev. Finally, I would like to thank the Arab leadership and the democratic Jews who support us in our struggle."

Many leaders participated in the demonstration, including six members of the Knesset as well as Mr. Awad Abd-AlFattah, Secretary of the Democratic National Assembly, Mr. Ayman Odeh, Secretary of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality and Mr. Shawqi Khatib, head of the Follow-Up Committee.

Faisal Sawalha is the Regional Coucil for the Arab Unrecognized Villages in the Negev