Thursday, February 17, 2011

Israel Demolishes El Araqib Village for 18th Time, Shoots and Detains Bedouin Residents

The Bedouin village of Al Araqib was attacked by Israeli forces and destroyed for the 18th time Thursday morning (17/2).

(Video shows previous Israeli destruction of El Araqib and attack of its residents on Feb. 10)

Israeli police, special forces, and riot police entered the village very early Thursday morning, before the residents had awakened. The police and Jewish National Fund, armed with bulldozers and weapons, destroyed the few buildings that were constructed Wednesday, following the 17th demolition, and surrounded the cemetery where the residents of Al Araqib were sleeping, so they were not able to get out.

While the residents were barricaded inside, the Jewish National Fund again worked on preparing the land for the planting of God TV’s “Peace Forest.”

In the later hours of the morning, around 100 residents of the nearby Bedouin city Rahat, some formerly of Al Araqib, arrived at the village to show support and solidarity.

Israeli forces, however, blocked them from entering. The men and women sat on the road, waiting for admission to the cemetery to spend time with their friends and relatives.

While plain clothes Israeli police officers were negotiating with the visitors from Rahat, the riot police decided that they needed to leave and began shooting men, women and children with rubber bullets.

Because the people were blocked from entered the village, they were forced to flee on the road. The police chased after them for around two kilometers, at shot tear gas at them. Seven people were arrested, two of them underage. One of those arrested is Dr. Awad Abu Frieh, the Al Araqib village spokesperson.

During this time the highway, Route 40, was blocked by the police in both directions. Once the people from Rahat had left, and the police were finished making arrests, the JNF continued working.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces arrived in the early hours of the morning and shot at the residents with rubber bullets and paint ball guns. When the first round of shooting subsided, the special forces pushed people from their homes and began demolishing the village for the 17thtime.

The residents of Al Araqib have barricaded themselves inside the village cemetery for protection and to prevent the destruction of the historic burial ground as well. Yesterday, all of the exits to the cemetery were closed by Israeli forces, and JNF bulldozers spent much of the day circling the site.

This Friday, 18 February, at noon there will be an inter-religious prayer in Al Araqib. Muslims and Jews will pray alongside each other and afterwards will stand together and speak of how our common religious traditions reject the violation of El Araqib residents' rights.

Those interested in participating can contact Rabbis for Human Rights at +972.2.648.275. There will also be organized transportation from Jerusalem and if needed, from Tel Aviv.

Thursday, 17 February 2011 11:35 Tania Kepler for the Alternative Information Center (AIC)

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