Israeli bulldozers demolished two houses in Bedouin villages unrecognized by Israel in the southern Negev region, Wednesday morning.
Local sources said that forces from the Yoav, the special Israeli police unit created to implement demolitions of Bedouin homes in the Negev, escorted by Israeli bulldozers, demolished a house in the village of Atir, and another house that belongs to the al-Jamaaen family, in the village of Sawah.
Israeli bulldozers also leveled an agricultural field belonging to the al-Atrash family, in Maulida village.
An Israeli police spokesperson said they were “looking into reports,” according to Ma’an News Agency.
Sawah and Atir are among 35 Bedouin villages considered “unrecognized” by the Israeli state. Last month, the village of al-Araqib was demolished for the 105th time.
According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages.
While Bedouins of the Negev are Israeli citizens, the villages unrecognized by the government have faced relentless efforts by the Israeli authorities to expel them from their lands in order to make room for Jewish Israeli homes.
The classification of their villages as “unrecognized” prevents Bedouins from developing or expanding their communities, as their villages are considered illegal by Israeli authorities.
Israeli authorities have also refused to connect unrecognized Bedouin villages to the national water and electricity grids, while excluding the communities from access to health and educational services, and basic infrastructure.
Rights groups have claimed that the demolitions in unrecognized Bedouin villages is a central Israeli policy aimed at removing the indigenous Palestinian population from the Negev, and transferring them to government-zoned townships, to make room for the expansion of Jewish Israeli communities.
Indigenous rights groups have also pointed out that the transfer of the Bedouins into densely populated townships also removes them from their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyles which is dependent on access to a wide range of grazing land for their animals.
In related news, Israeli authorities also carried out three demolitions in the villages of al-Nabi Samwil and al-Khalayleh in the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem, on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, said that “enforcement measures” were carried out against two buildings and a structure under construction in the two villages for being built without Israeli-issued permits.
WAFA reported that two of the buildings were car washes.
Al-Nabi Samwil and al-Khalayleh are located in Area C, the 60 percent of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli military control.
Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in Area C, forcing most Palestinians to build without permits.
All building in Area C, whether by Palestinians or Jewish settlers, comes under the jurisdiction of the Israeli Civil Administration, which has full control over all zoning and planning issues.
In practice, almost all Palestinian applications for a building permit are rejected, with the Civil Administration granting only a handful of permits.
Demolitions in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have seen an unprecedented surge this year, with the number of structures demolished in the first half of 2016 well exceeding the total number of demolitions carried out in all of 2015.
More than 1,569 Palestinians have been displaced since the beginning of 2016 as a result of demolitions in the occupied territory, compared to 688 Palestinians displaced over the entirety of 2015, according to UN documentation.
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