Ma'an News Agency
August 4, 2010 - 12:00am

Hundreds of Israeli police stormed an unrecognized Bedouin village Wednesday, less than one week after it was razed to make way for Jewish National Fund forest, witnesses said.

Residents, who remained in the Negev-area village to rebuild, said clashes erupted with police, sent to clear the Bedouin who had not left the area.

The dwellings were rebuilt following a decision by the Higher Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, the online news site Arab48 reported. The decision was made following the demolition of the buildings on 27 July.

Witnesses said bulldozers tore down the new structures, prompting the clashes, in which five people sustained injuries, including Palestinian member of Israel's Knesset Taleb As-Sana, as Israeli police tried to remove him from one of the sit-in tents.

Salem Abu Madeghem and Awad Abu Fareeh, field researchers for the civil rights group in Israel Adalah, as well as two others, sustained injuries, residents said, adding that all were transferred to hospital for treatment.

Spokesman for Israel's police Mickey Rosenfeld said a number of shacks were taken down in the village, and noted several were taken in for questioning. Others, he added, were arrested "for causing disturbances at the scene and police are in and around the village at the moment to prevent further disturbances."

The Islamic Movement in Israel's chief Sheikh Mussa Abu Ayyad said his organization would stand by the Bedouin residents, who are all citizens of Israel, and would provide services for them.

Locals said they intended to return to their village to once again rebuild the homes.

On 27 July, all 40 homes in the Al-Araqib village were destroyed and 300 residents were evicted during the raid which began at 4:30 a.m. after the Israeli government deemed the village illegally built on state land. The Bedouin residents say they have proof of land ownership, and have been in court for several years.

Approximately 1,500 police officers participated including special riot forces, mounted officers, helicopters, and bulldozers.

At least 200 children were left homeless as a result, as police removed residents property into prepared containers, and bulldozers razed buildings and sheepfolds, local activists said in a statement. Fruit orchards and olive grove trees were destroyed in the process.

Israeli activists who were present at the demolition described the move as an “act of war, such as is undertaken against an enemy.”


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