Demolition of al-Araqib (archive image from previous demolition)

The Israeli authorities on Thursday demolished the village of al-Araqib, an unrecognized Palestinian Bedouin village in the Negev, and threatened its residents with displacement and evacuation, for the 156th time.

Eyewitnesses told reporters from the Wafa News Agency that the Israeli police dismantled the tents of the people of al-Araqib, tore them apart and dragged them from the village.

They then seized the residents’ belongings, including chairs, beds, lamps, tables and other household goods.

The Israeli Forces then surrounded the village cemetery and took measurements in preparation for demolition.

For many years, the residents of al-Araqib have stood steadfast and refused the forced relocation by the Israeli government.

The Israeli authorities continue to punish Al-Araqib and demolish the village repeatedly in an attempt to force the residents to emigrate.

In recent months the Israeli authorities have also escalated their abductions of Palestinian Bedouins who have stood up against the demolitions, most notably Sheikh Sayyah Al-Turi, who was deported from the village after having served a term in Israeli prison.

In addition, an Israeli court imposed a fine of NIS 1,600,000 (around $453,000 USD) a few days ago on the residents of the village for the cost of demolishing and evacuating the village – a ridiculous sum given the extreme poverty of the village residents.

The claim by the Israeli court is that the Bedouins are “trespassing on state owned land” – another ridiculous claim, since the Bedouins have lived on this land since before Israel was created in 1948.

Some 240,000 Palestinian Arabs live in the Negev desert, half of whom live in villages and residential communities, some of which have been in place for hundreds of years. Israel does not recognize their ownership of the land and refuses to provide it with basic services such as water and electricity.

Villagers said that they insist on remaining in their village, adding that they will keep rebuilding their village.

The continuing demolitions of al-Araqib are carried out in the attempt to force the Bedouin population to relocate, to government-zoned townships.

Like the 34 other Bedouin villages “unrecognized” by Israel, al-Araqib does not receive any services from the Israeli government and is constantly subjected to threats of expulsion and home demolition.

These “unrecognized” villages were established in the Negev soon after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, following the creation of the state of Israel, when an estimated 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes and made refugees.

Many of the Bedouins were forcibly transferred to the village sites during the 17-year period when Palestinians inside Israel were governed under Israeli military law, which ended shortly before Israel’s military takeover of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967.