29 July, 2010|
One day after Israeli authorities razed the Bedouin village of el Araqib, village residents joined with Palestinian, Israeli and international volunteers to rebuild the village.
“We successfully rebuilt all the structures and tents destroyed, noted Dr. Awad Abu Freih, spokesperson of the el Araqib village and member of the el Araqib Popular Committee and the Arab Education Forum in the Negev. In a conversation with the AIC, Dr. Abu Freih stated that the residents of el Araqib “plan on building more than what was destroyed, in an attempt to prevent future demolitions.”
Over 300 Bedouins, mainly children, were forcefully removed from their village Tuesday morning (27 July) as they watched the Israeli police destroy their homes and property. The raid began at about 4:30 in the morning and residents woke up surrounded by a huge force of 1,500 police with guns, stun grenades, helmets and shields, including hundreds of Special Riot Police as well as mounted police, helicopters and bulldozers.
Despite being unrecognized by Israel, the village of el Araqib has existed since before the creation of Israel in 1948. Bedouin residents were evicted by the newly declared Israeli state in 1951, but returned to the land on which they live and where they cultivate. Ownership of the land is now the subject of proceedings in the Be’er Sheva District Court.
Dr. Abu Freih calls on internationals to help the Bedouins of El-Araqib in their struggle for survival to remain in their village. He states that they are currently in need of “everything,” from money to visits to media attention. He encourages anyone interested to speak to the villagers and spend the day or night with them.
Dr. Yeela Raanan of the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages urges fundraising efforts to raise much-needed money to rebuild the destroyed homes and recultivate the devastated land. Dr. Raanan emphasizes that the residents also need to know that they are not alone in this battle, explaining that the more support people will show them, the more strength they will have to remain firm in their resistance.
Dr. Raanan notes that the sole just solution to this issue is to simply allow the residents to remain on their property, grant them their land rights, and allow them access to their land resources. She urges Europeans and Americans in particular to demand that their governments recognize this issue of demolishing unrecognized villages and to pressure Israel into allowing the indigenous people access to their land.
A prayer ceremony open to the public will be taking place this Friday, July 30, at 11 AM in the village of El-Araqib.
Dr. Awad Abu Freih concluded his conversation with the AIC by stating that “We want our voice to be heard around the world.”
For more information on how you can help, contact:
Dr. Awad Abu Freih: +972 (0) 52 2714020
Dr. Yeela Ranaan, Regional Council for the Unrecognised Villages (RCUV):
+972 (0)54 7487005 ; firstname.lastname@example.org