The Alternative Information Centre reports that al-Arakib village has been demolished again by Israeli forces.Four huts, which were being used for village meetings, were demolished on Monday by JNF (Jewish National Fund) bulldozers. The village has been demolished many times since July 2010. When the demolitions first began, villagers and volunteers would attempt to rebuild homes immediately afterwards.
More recently, Israeli authorities have removed even the remains of homes, rendering reconstruction all but impossible. Today, the villagers live in temporary structures in the village cemetery. The Israeli state attorney has recently announced plans to fine the villagers over NIS 1million for the cost of demolishing their homes.
The village is not recognized by the Israeli state. Al-Arakib 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.