For the second day in a row, the Israeli police and demolition forces stormed the village of Al-Atrash in the Negev and prevented citizens from entering their lands. Bulldozers began demolishing buildings in the village with the aim of constricting the residents by targeting their agricultural crops and expelling them. 11 Palestinian Arab residents have been arrested since the morning hours.
The Mossawa Center expressed condemns the practices of the Bedouin Settlement Authority, the Jewish National Fund, and the Israeli police as they attempt to uproot the people of the Negev from their lands, evict entire villages, and intensify incitement against the Negev Palestinian Arabs.
Recently, a large number of demolitions have been recorded in the unrecognized villages of the Negev – a part of a long-standing goal to strip the indigenous Palestinian Arabs of their lands. More than 100,000 people live in the 35 unrecognized villages, which authorities are effectively trying to expel from in order to control their lands and implement future settlement plans.
Palestinian Arab residents of the villages in the Beersheba region are engaged in a bitter struggle to stay on their lands and gain recognition for their villages. The villages in question include Al-Ghurra, Khirbet Al-Watan, Bir Al-Hamam, Wadi Al-Mashash and Al-Zarnouk; most of whom have witnessed demolitions, with the most prominent example being the village of Al-Araqib.
The Israeli police suppressed the protests against the ongoing evictions in an inhumane and uncivilized manner, as they assaulted activists and journalists and arrested children, in order to intimidate the residents and lead them to evacuate, despite the residents’ clear refusal and insistence to defend their land.
While the plans to evacuate the Negev specifically target its majority Palestinian Arab population in a clear display of racism, authorities claim that the goal is to improve the lives of the population and gather them into population groups.
However, these demolitions and “gathering” initiatives only go to further harm the livelihood of thousands of families, in addition to stripping them of their property and homes without any consideration for their lifestyle and historical rights. Over the past two days, bulldozers of the Israel Land Authority and Jewish National Fund carried out land monetarization operations that the authority had confiscated.
The Mossawa Center confirms that the Israeli authorities' treatment of Palestinian Arab citizens clearly discriminatory and aims primarily to infringe on their basic right to own property and housing. We call on the demolitions to immediately halt.
The Mossawa Center also accuses Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked of targeting the Palestinian Arabs of the Negev through the policies she is trying to push and thus must bear the consequences of her actions potentially collapsing the governing coalition.
Shaked postponed the enactment of provisions for allocating budgets for the Palestinian Arab community in Government Plan 550 until n February and removed the law connecting Palestinian Arab homes to electric grid, further exacerbating the crisis facing Palestinian Arab families in the Negev. Shaked is also working to re-introduce the racist Citizenship Law, which separates Palestinian Arab families. Moreover, she is supporting land-grabbing and settlement operations and granting settlers free reign to choose where to settle in exchange for preventing the original inhabitants of the Negev from living in their homes and villages and denying them recognition.