AL-ARAQIB: Israeli police on Tuesday stormed a Bedouin village that was completely razed in July, leveling efforts to rebuild homes for the third time in two weeks, rights groups said.
A huge convoy of around 30 police vehicles stormed the village of Al-Araqib in Israel’s southern Negev desert shortly after dawn, the Negev Coexistence Forum and an AFP correspondent said.
The operation came just ahead of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
The police immediately began destroying a group of tent-like structures which had been erected by villagers in a first step to rebuilding their homes, which were destroyed on July 27 in a much bigger raid.
"There were about 100 policemen with five or six bulldozers and lorries.
They destroyed the village for the third time in two weeks," said Haya Noah, head of the Negev Coexistence Forum.
Exactly two weeks ago, more than 1,000 police had raided the site and leveled 30 or 40 makeshift buildings which were home to around 300 Bedouin, uprooting hundreds of trees and carting off the villagers’ possessions.
A week later, police again raided the site and leveled the Bedouins’ efforts to rebuild.
Noah said villagers had once again set about rebuilding their homes — most of them wooden structures covered with plastic or fabric to keep off the sweltering desert heat.
Police had also taken two water tankers and building material being used by the villagers. "They just don’t want the Bedouin to live there and they are sending a strong message to others," Noah told AFP.
Around 160,000 Bedouin live in Israel, most dwelling in and around the Negev desert.
More than half of them live in unrecognized villages without municipal services like water and electricity, and much of the rest also live in extreme poverty.