Al-Araqib (The Inside Palestine)- Israeli occupation forces demolished Al-Araqib village in the Al-Naqab Desert earlier on Tuesday for the 198th time, despite the severe weather conditions.
Reports said Israeli occupation forces raided the village, which is rebuilt by its residents after each time it has been demolished, and removed all the tents and destroyed the tin shelters placed on the land by the residents to provide a roof over their heads in the cold weather, leaving them homeless.
— الجرمق الإخباري (@aljarmaqnet) February 22, 2022
Al-Araqib was demolished for the first time in 2000. Today’s demolition is the 198th so far and the second since the start of 2022. In 2021, it was demolished 14 times.
‘Israel’ does not “recognise” the village, but its residents point out that they own the land and have done, since the Ottoman period, decades before ‘Israel’ was created in occupied Palestine.
Despite the repeated demolitions, every time the residents of Al-Araqib rebuild their tents and small homes. However, the occupation forces return to raze them, sometimes several times in a month. There are 22 Palestinian families living in the village.
Al-Araqib village is one of 35 “unrecognised” Arab villages in the area, and is constantly targeted for demolition by Israeli bulldozers, for which Bedouins are then charged.
Lately, the Al-Naqab Desert villages have been under the Israeli threat of demolition and bulldozing works.
Last month, for over three days, hundreds of peaceful Palestinians took part in large demonstrations in several villages of the Al-Naqab against Israel’s demolition and bulldozing works in their lands.
The Higher Follow Up Committee of Arabs in the Naqab, a local umbrella body that represents Palestinians in the area, also announced a general strike in response to the Israeli demolitions.
“We took the decision to undertake proactive measures, beginning with adopting a cumulative resistance programme over a period of six months that will lead to a regional general strike and a massive demonstration outside the prime minister’s office, and the internationalisation of the issue to expose the racist practices [of Israeli authorities] before international institutions,” the committee said in a statement.
The general strike was announced in villages facing the threat of Israeli demolition including al-Atrash, al-Sawa, al-Zarnouq, al-Ruwais, Beir Haddaj and Khirbet Watan.
However, the Israeli occupation forces stormed the Palestinian villages in the Al-Naqab desert and started violently attacking and arresting the peaceful protesters who gathered to denounce the demolition work.
The Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters and sound bombs directly and intensively towards the protesters to disperse them, resulting in the suffocation of dozens of them due to gas inhalation.
They also used skunk water cannons to disperse the nonviolent protesters.
This all started on January 9, when the Jewish National Fund (JNF) began several days of the so-called “planting trees” on disputed land in the Al-Naqab.
For over three days, the Israeli bulldozers carried out demolitions on lands of local Bedouins used for cultivation.
The forces closed off the villages and prevented the residents from entering their lands. Thus, the Palestinian residents moved their protests to the entrance of the villages.
During and following the protests, Israeli forces arrested over 140 Palestinians from the Al-Naqab, including minors.
The Israeli demolitions in al-Naqab are part of a controversial Israeli plan, led by the JNF, to plant trees across some 40,000 dunams (15 square miles) of the Naqab.
In December, Israeli forces attacked Palestinians in six villages: al-Mashash, al-Zarnouq, Bier al-Hamam, al-Ruwais, al-Gharaa, and Khirbet Watan, destroying crops and excavating soil.
The JNF and the Israel Land Authority (ILA) were planning to plant hundreds of trees on lands from the six Bedouin villages, which had all received demolition orders and faced the displacement of thousands of residents “in the name of developing the area.”
‘Israel’ has used the forestation projects as a tactic for land grabs and to prevent Palestinians from returning to lands from which they have been displaced.
The residents say that such policies are an attempt to pressure them into being internally displaced despite Bedouins having lived on or near these lands prior to Israel’s establishment in 1948.
There are almost 100,000 Palestinians live in 35 Bedouin villages in the Al-Naqab and are all unrecognized by the Israeli occupation government who views the Bedouin residents of these villages as illegal squatters and does not provide them with basic services or infrastructure, including electricity, water, sewage systems, roads, schools or hospitals.