Israeli forces demolish more Bedouin dwellings
Israeli forces on Jan. 6 demolished five dwellings housing Palestinian Bedouin families in the Abu Nuwwar community east of Jerusalem—part of the wider E1 corridor—leaving 25 people homeless. Dawood al-Jahalin, a spokesperson for the Abu Nuwwar Bedouin community, told Ma'an News Agency that Israeli military and police vehicles surrounded the area at around 8:30 AM, before bulldozers demolished five dwellings and an agricultural structure. The families were not given any time to remove their belongings before the dwellings—made of steel, wood, and canvas—were torn down, he said. "I showed them a court decision banning demolition, but the officer in charge refused to see it and instead told me he had a demolition order from the Civil Administration," al-Jahalin said.
He said that the Israeli authorities had repeatedly attempted to persuade the families to leave their land. "They offers us blank checks and alternative land, but we refused and will continue to refuse to leave our land, and we will rebuild the dwellings this evening."
Israel's Civil Administration said in a statement that the families had refused to move to "legal buildings with appropriate infrastructure near their current illegal structures." As a result, it said two "illegal structures" were demolished following "the required executive procedures."
Abu Nuwwar is one of several Bedouin villages facing forced evacuation due to plans by Israeli authorities to build thousands of homes for Jewish-only settlements in the E1 corridor. Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forced to suspend work on the housing units in 2013, settlement watchdog Peace Now reported last week that the Ministry of Housing has "quietly" continued planning 8,372 homes in the corridor.
Settlement construction in E1 would effectively divide the West Bank and make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state—as envisaged by the internationally backed two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict—almost impossible. Israeli activity in E1 has attracted widespread international condemnation, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has in the past said that "E1 is a red line that cannot be crossed." (Ma'an, Jan. 6)
Also Jan. 6, Israeli forces demolished a mosque in the "unrecognized" Palestinian Bedouin village of Rakhama in the Negev desert of southern Israel, Talal Abu Arar, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, told Ma'an. Abu Arar said he attempted to prevent the demolition, but had been unable to convince the Israeli authorities. "[They] do not spare any effort in exerting pressure on the Arab population of the Negev in their attempt to empty the land of Arabs and to displace them," he said. "The demolition of the mosque today, and mosque demolitions in the Negev in general, is a declaration of war on Islam, in line with the religious war Israel has been igniting in the region."
The Palestinian MK slammed Israel for not providing "any services to Palestinians in unrecognized villages." Despite collecting taxes from Palestinians, he said that "Israeli authorities demolish their homes and close the doors of livelihoods in their faces."
Rakhama is one of around 40 Bedouin villages in the Negev that Israel refuses to recognize—together holding nearly 90,000 people. Israeli authorities last month demolished structures in the Bedouin village of al-Araqib, also in the Negev, for the 92nd time.
Israeli policy regarding Palestinian Bedouins—who live under the constant threat of displacement—has been slammed by Human Rights Watch in the past as completely disregarding international law, which forbids discriminatory evictions. (Ma'an, Jan. 6)