[December 11, 2013] AIC (Alternative Information Center) — Shaykh Sayah Atouri has returned to his home in the Naqab (Negev-area) village of Al Araqib, Tuesday, after winning his appeal to a Be’er Sheva court.
“I feel like a newborn”, said the Shaykh as he entered the village late Tuesday morning. Sayah spent ten days in an Israeli jail, prior to a further ten days spent in a protest tent pitched near a police station in the Naqab town of Rahat.
For the past three weeks, Sayah has been prohibited from entering his village, following a court order issued, after his detention. in regard to a home demolition.
His release from jail was contingent upon him not re-entering his village until the court had reached its verdict, AIC reports.
“This case establishes precedence”, stated Shaykh Sayah. His hopes are that, in the future, judges will acknowledge the right of Bedouins to remain on their land and fight for their rights. “But, the next time”, he added, ”I would rather go to prison than agree to stay away from my village”.
Sayah was arrested on November 20, when Israeli officials demolished homes in the Al Araqib village for the 61st time. Police accused Shaykh Sayah of breaking the release terms of the order issued against him in October, following an incident involving his alleged “trespassing” on land which had been claimed by the state of Israel.
The continued demolitions of Al Araqib come to the Bedouin as part of the Jewish National Fund’s (JNF) plans to implement a forestation project, titled the “Ambassadors’ Forest”, in honour of assistance provided by pro-Israeli world diplomatic corps.
The Bedouin have inhabited the area since 1905, but are currently engaged in a bitter struggle over land ownership with the Israeli state, which continues to expropriate their land and displace local indigenous inhabitants.