Around 700 Bedouin women held a protest in Jerusalem challenging the demolition of their villages by Israeli forces. They travelled to Jerusalem from the Negev desert in southern Israel, where they live in ‘unrecognized’ villages that have been razed multiple times since Israel was created in 1948.They gathered outside the Israeli Ministry of the Interior on Tuesday, after the destruction of al-Arakid village this past weekend, holding signs and chanting slogans. Even as the mid-day sun beat down, and the women maintained their daily Ramadan fast of no water and food from sunrise to sunset, they continued to chant and attempt to dialogue with employees entering and leaving the building.

The women also submitted a letter of demands to the Israeli Interior Minister’s advisor on minority affairs, Saeed Muadi. The demands included a recognition of their villages, and equal treatment under the law.

One activist, Hanan el-Sana, told the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahranoth, “The systematic razing of unrecognized villages in the Negev by the authorities shows the State has no respect for human dignity or the religious customs of the area’s inhabitants. The (Bedouin) women feel that no one is hearing their cries. They feel this is the beginning of a long public campaign that will continue until the Israeli government recognizes the villages. For 60 years, we have suffered in our villages without basic necessities such as water, sewage systems, and electricity, and we have also lost our traditional livelihood because of the land appropriation policy. Add to this the recent home demolitions – the situation has become intolerable.”

The head of the Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, Ibrahim al-Waqili, called on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to resign due to his blatant violation of international human rights law with his ongoing policy of destruction of Bedouin villages in southern Israel.