March 2, 2012
The Bedouin of Israel and the occupied territories are easy to pick on. Self-identifying as neither Israeli nor Palestinian, not often considered as such by either community in return, their plight is less attention-grabbing, less politically-infused than that of other communities in the Holy Land. Accordingly, when their rights are apparently under assault, their suffering can easily disappear under the radar.
Never fully comfortable guests in either national camp, it is the actions of Israel that ostensibly have been the most cruel to the Bedouin. In July 2010, Israeli forces swept into the village of Al-Araqib in Israel’s southern Negev (Arabic: Naqab) desert, destroying houses, olive trees, animal shelters to clear the “unrecognised” land of its allegedly illegal occupants. Half of those displaced were children.
The villagers have since defiantly rebuilt their settlement, claiming ownership of their land dating back to the early twentieth century before Israel came into being in its current form. Gravestones in the village appear to indicate that this may be so. Having reconstructed, their village was destroyed again. The cycle has continued to the present day, with Al-Araqib having been reportedly deconstructed and rebuilt over thirty times to date.
The high number of demolitions led the Israeli Land Authority to initiate proceedings last year against 34 villagers from Al Araqib, seeking 1.8 million shekels in compensation for the costs of repeatedly destroying their homes.