Al-Araqib (Israel): Israeli police
on Tuesday stormed a Bedouin village which they had completely
razed in July, demolishing the villagers` partly-rebuilt homes
on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
It was the third time in two weeks that police had
raided Al-Araqib village in the Negev desert and levelled
everything, refusing to recognise claims by the Bedouin that
they own the land there.
A huge convoy of around 30 police vehicles stormed
the village shortly after dawn, the Negev Coexistence Forum
and an AFP correspondent said.
The operation came just ahead of the start of the
fasting month of Ramadan which is marked by family reunions
for the iftar -- the meal that breaks the fast.
The police destroyed a group of tent-like dwellings
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
The Bedouin say they own hundreds of thousands of
dunams (each equivalent to 1,000 square metres) of land in the
Negev but Israel rejects these claims.
Police confirmed the raid and said they would take
all necessary steps to ensure the Bedouin did not return.
"For the third time, police officers and units
returned to Al Araqib and removed a number of people based on
a court order which says they must leave the area and move out
of their shacks because they don`t own the land," police
spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told AFP.
"If necessary, police will keep on returning to
clear the area."
Exactly two weeks ago, more than 1,000 police
raided the site and levelled 30 or 40 makeshift buildings
which were home to around 300 Bedouin, uprooting hundreds of
trees and carting off the villagers` possessions.
At the time, Rosenfeld said the homes had been
"illegally built" and were destroyed in line with a court
ruling issued 11 years ago which was never implemented.
A week later, police again raided the site and
leveled the Bedouins` efforts to rebuild.