The Alternative Information Center reports that Israel plans to sue the residents of al-Arakib, a Bedouin village in the Negev desert, for the costs of demolishing their homes.Al-Arakib has been demolished 18 times in the past year by the JNF and security forces. It is reported that the State Attorney’s Office is preparing to sue the residents for the costs of these demolitions, which are estimated to exceed NIS 1 million. The village is not recognized by the Israeli state and has been fighting an ongoing battle for recognition since the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Although the villagers have land deeds and receipts of paid taxes dating back to Ottoman times, the Israeli authorities do not accept these as valid. The fate of al-Arakib is indicative of a wider problem in Israel, and particularly for its Bedouin community, the majority of whom live in the Negev. 

Over 110,000 Bedouin live in so-called ‘unrecognized villages’, many of which – like al-Arakib – significantly pre-date the state of Israel itself. Unrecognized villages are not entitled to services that the state provides to recognized settlements, notably water and sewage services, electricity, roads and educational provision.

Problems for villages like al-Arakib are likely to intensify as the JNF’s operation “Blueprint Negev” continues. Al-Arakib is being demolished in order to facilitate the JNF’s tree-planting operations there.