[News] Why does Israel keep demolishing Al-Araqeeb village in occupied Palestine?

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Mar 30 15:13:43 EDT 2021

does Israel keep demolishing Al-Araqeeb village in occupied Palestine?
Nabil Al-Sahli - March 30, 2021

Last week, just two days after the latest Israeli General Election, the
occupation army demolished the village of Al-Araqeeb for the 185th time
since 2000. The context is the Prawer Plan to Judaise the Negev region,
which is regarded as one of the most dangerous Jewish settlement plans
since 1948. About 197,700 acres are under direct Israel control in the
Negev. The Arab inhabitants have been expelled to solidify the "Jewishness"
of the settler-colonial state.

The repeated demolition of Al-Araqeeb is part of Israel's plan to
"transfer" — a euphemism for "expel" — the Palestinian Arabs from their
homeland. Al-Araqeeb is located to the north of Beersheba in the Negev
desert, in the south of occupied Palestine. It is one of 45 Arab villages
that the occupation state does not "recognise", which means that it does
not get connected to public services. The Negev covers more than 50 per
cent of the area of historic Palestine, around 27,000 square kilometres. As
a result of the Palestinian birth rate, the indigenous population has
increased from 15,000 in 1948 to about 260,000 at the beginning of this

[image: More demolitions - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]]

More demolitions – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Since the early years of the occupation from 1948 onwards, the Israeli
authorities sought direct control over what was left of the Bedouin lands
in the Negev in order to develop its military arsenal (the Dimona nuclear
weapons facility is there) and establish state and private farms. In the
early 1970s, the authorities required the people of the Negev to register
their land with the Israel Land Administration, even though the government
knew that the majority of the Negev Bedouins did not keep documents related
to their land ownership and villages there, especially in the regional
capital, Beersheba.

It is important to note that the area inhabited by the Arab Bedouins in the
Negev — they are the indigenous people, remember — is no more than 59,000
of the Negev's 3.3 million acres. In 1948, Israeli courts ruled that the
Bedouins had no rights of ownership of their land and the land of their

The Israelis were able, through tight demographic and settlement policies,
not to recognise Arab urban expansion in the Negev region. They gathered
the Negev Bedouins in specific areas for several reasons, including the
breaking of their demographic concentration in areas that have a purely
Arab identity. One of the areas that the Bedouins were resettled in was the
town of Mar'it. This was both an uprooting and forced expulsion of the
Negev Arabs. There are many Israeli plans to regroup them in three areas in
the south of historic Palestine, namely Dimona, Arad and Beersheba.

In the same manner, the gathering process may take place in seven villages
rather than the 70 Bedouin villages dotted across the Negev desert, which
are not recognised by the Israeli government. This will make the lives of
the Bedouins even more marginal in terms of health, education and other
public services.

The Prawer Plan is to confiscate about 197,700 acres of their land and
resettle the Negev Arabs in an area that is less than 24,700 acres. The
demolition of Al-Araqeeb yet again is part of this plan.

The next Israeli government, regardless of its political affiliation, will
confiscate more land in the Negev in the coming years, but the Bedouin will
still not be recognised as citizens with full rights in a state that claims
to be a democracy.

The occupation state and its research centres use many terms, including
"the development process", to justify its Jewish settlements in the Negev
(and Galilee, in the north). Indeed, what has happened in Galilee since
1948 is arguably the model for what is planned for the Negev.

At the end of the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe), 151,000 Palestinians were left
in the nascent state of Israel. The so-called Israel "Defence" Forces took
control of the refugees' property and land under the 1950 Absentee Law,
whereby those present in their country as refugees in the West Bank, say,
or Gaza Strip, but not residing in their villages and towns were declared
to be "absent" and their properties were confiscated. Today, such displaced
persons suffer the indignity of what is essentially second class
citizenship as Arabs in the "Jewish State" and are unable to return to
their homes and land from where they have been expelled from 1948 onwards.

In conclusion, the latest demolition of Al-Araqeeb is part of the same
process to Judaise the land of Palestine. The process starts with the
demolition of homes and infrastructure, and ends with the expulsion of
Arabs from their villages and towns throughout Palestine.

*This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Quds Al-Arabi
29 March 2021*

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not
necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.
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