Israel has filed suit against 34 bedouins near Al-Arakib for costs incurred while repeatedly demolishing their homes. The state is seeking an unprecedented NIS 1.8 million from the groupThe Israeli Land Administration (ILA) claims that the Bedouins repeatedly built homes on the state-owned land despite having houses some distance away, Haaretz News reports. The ILA, who defined the people of Al-Arakib as squatters, claims the land was leased to the Bedouins until 1998, however the state took action to evict the residents starting in 1999.
In 2000, an injunction was issued barring the villagers in Al-Arakib from building on the land. It allows for visits to the cemetery and mosque only. However local leaders claim that the land belongs to them, and the the matter is still in court. Dr. Thabet Abu Ras of the human rights group Adalah also says that the issue is still before the courts.
The leader of the village,Sheikh Siyah al-Turi, told Haaretz that they were not informed of the lawsuit and found out through the media. He says they ‘submit a lot of complaints but no one listens to us’.
Israel has demanded compensation for house demolitions in the past. However residents say that they are owed money from the state for the destruction of their property.
Activists and residents plan to march from the nearby town of Be’er Sheva to protest the ILA’s action on Wednesday night.
Israeli authorities have demolished the houses of the Al-Arakib villagers from more than 20 times, and the villagers continue to rebuild them.