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Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories: Further information: Bedouin village destroyed for ninth time

, Index number: MDE 15/011/2011

The Bedouin village of al-‘Araqib in the Negev, southern Israel, was destroyed for the ninth time. As residents were forcibly evicted, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at them and their supporters, and arrested 13 people for protesting the demolitions and trying to rebuild homes.

Further information on UA: 236/10 Index: MDE 15/011/2011 Israel Date: 25 January 2011
The Bedouin village of al-‘Araqib in the Negev, southern Israel, was destroyed for the ninth time.
As residents were forcibly evicted, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at them and their
supporters, and arrested 13 people for protesting the demolitions and trying to rebuild homes.
The latest devastation to al-‘Araqib village is an escalation in the Israeli authorities attempts to forcibly evict
villagers from their land. Israeli Land Administration (ILA) bulldozers arrived before 9am on 16 January, with
between 30 and 40 police in full riot gear, and demolished the entire village, including approximately 20 temporary
structures rebuilt since the last destruction on 23 December. On 17 January, ILA bulldozers and trucks returned,
accompanied by police in riot gear, and destroyed temporary structures rebuilt overnight by residents.
Eyewitnesses report that on both days police fired tear gas and rubber-coated and sponge-tipped bullets, in some
cases directly at residents and their supporters at close range. Although police claim that only paint balls and
pepper spray were used, photos confirm the use of rubber-coated and sponge-tipped bullets, and that police beat
protestors with batons. At least 10 people, including five children aged between 16 and 17 years, were injured. At
least five were hospitalized. Thirteen people were arrested and later released, four of whom, including Haia Noach,
the Director of the Negev Coexistence Forum (NCF), were charged with disobeying a court order against rebuilding in
the village, among other offences. Another person was charged with harming a police officer.
Residents and their supporters were confined to the village cemetery during the demolitions. The Jewish National
Fund (JNF) plans to plant a forest in al-‘Araqib, and has recently moved bulldozers and other equipment closer to
the village. A court injunction preventing foresting and rebuilding of the village was not renewed on its expiry on 23
January. Although the judge recommended that there should be no further foresting, the JNF may commence tree-
planting at any time. The Israeli authorities have failed to engage in genuine consultations with residents to resolve
their situation, instead claiming that they are “illegal squatters” and that the ILA is merely enforcing Israeli law.
PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Hebrew, English or your own language:
Condemning the demolitions and forced evictions of al-‘Araqib residents, and urging the Israeli authorities to
ensure that residents are allowed to remain in the village and rebuild their homes pending resolution of their land
claims in the Israeli courts;
Urging a moratorium on JNF foresting operations, evictions and demolitions in the area, pending resolution of
relevant land claims and a solution reached through genuine consultations with residents that guarantees their right
to safe and adequate housing and enables them to continue their traditional livelihoods;
Urging the Israeli authorities to respect the Bedouin population’s right to their ancestral land and to take steps to
officially recognize al-‘Araqib and other “unrecognized” villages.
Director-General of the Israel Land
Yaron Bibi
Israel Land Administration
6 Shamai Street, PO Box 2600
Jerusalem 94631, Israel
Fax: +972 2 620 8427
Email: natalil@mmi.gov.il
Salutation: Dear Director-General
Chairman of the JNF
Effie Stenzler
Keren Kayemet Yisrael Street
PO Box 7283, Jerusalem 91072, Israel
Fax: +972-2-6707500
Email: efis@kkl.org.il
Salutation: Dear Chairman
Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu
Office of the Prime Minister
3 Kaplan Street, PO Box 187
Kiryat Ben-Gurion , Jerusalem, Israel
Fax: + 972 2 566 4838
Email: pm_eng@pmo.gov.il
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above
date. This is the third update of UA 236/10. Further information: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE15/027/2010/en
Date: 25 January 2011
The village of al-‘Araqib is one of more than 40 Palestinian villages in Israel not recognized by the Israeli authorities, despite the
residents’ Israeli citizenship and long-established claims to their lands. Residents of these “unrecognized” villages, many of
which are located in Israel’s Negev desert, lack security of tenure and services including water and electricity.
Al-‘Araqib village was first demolished by the authorities on 27 July 2010, when residents were forcibly evicted by more than
1,000 riot police officers, and at least 46 homes and other structures were destroyed. Thousands of olive and other trees were
uprooted, destroying the villagers’ livelihood, and the villagers’ possessions were confiscated by the police. On 4 and 10 August,
makeshift shelters that the villagers had built were demolished and buried by bulldozers, supported by a large police force in riot
gear. During Ramadan, on 17 August, while the residents were fasting, the authorities demolished the village. On 12 September
at dawn, dozens of police arrived again at al-‘Araqib with bulldozers and destroyed newly erected tents and other structures. On
13 October the entire village was again razed, and the director of the Negev Coexistence Forum was arrested and banned from
entering al-‘Araqib for 10 days. On 22 November approximately 30 structures were demolished in the village and some 1,600
olive trees located 2km away from the village and belonging to relatives of al-‘Araqib residents were uprooted by the Israeli
authorities. On 23 December, approximately 30 makeshift structures were again demolished, and the residents’ water tank was
In its concluding observations in July 2010, the UN Human Rights Committee stated its concern about allegations of forced
evictions of the Bedouin population based on the Public Land Law (Expulsion of Invaders) of 1981 as amended in 2005 and
about what it described as the Israeli authorities inadequate consideration of the agricultural and other traditional needs of the
Bedouin population of the Negev, and the difficulties that they face in accessing health structures, education, water and
electricity due to Israeli policies. The Committee called for the Israeli authorities to respect the Bedouin populations right to
their ancestral land and their traditional livelihood based on agriculture and to guarantee the Bedouin populations access to
health structures, education, water and electricity, irrespective of their whereabouts in Israel. The UN Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination has also expressed concern about Israels relocation of Bedouin residents of unrecognized
villages to towns and called for their villages to be officially recognized, and for Israel to enhance its efforts to consult the
villagers and seek their agreement or consent in advance of any process of relocation.
Despite an apparent governmental plan to regularize the status of some of the “unrecognized” villages, it was reported in the
Israeli media in early 2010 that the Interior Ministry, the Israel Land Administration (ILA) and the police had decided to triple
the demolition rate of Bedouin construction in the Negev, and the marked increase in the number of demolitions and demolition
orders this year accords with such reports. ILA Development Director Shlomo Zeiser told Hebrew-language media on 16 January:
“we are preparing the ground for planting… and making an effort to find a final solution to what’s happening in al-‘Araqib”.
In addition to the demolitions in al-‘Araqib and other Palestinian communities inside Israel, during 2010 the Israeli authorities
intensified demolitions of Palestinian homes located in the occupied West Bank. According to figures from the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), over 430 Palestinian structures homes, animal shelters, commercial structures,
and water cisterns in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, were demolished by the Israeli authorities during
2010, a 60 per cent increase in demolitions compared with 2009. These demolitions in the occupied West Bank left almost 600
Palestinians homeless, half of them children, and affected a further 14,000 people who lost parts of their homes or structures
crucial to their livelihoods.
Further information on UA: 236/10 Index: MDE 15/011/2011 Issue Date: 25 January 2011

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