One year later in Al-Araqib: Rebuilding, Destruction, and Resilience
(Beer el-Sabe, Israel) Nearly one year after the first demolition of the unrecognized village of Al-Araqib in the Naqab (Negev), Arab Bedouin residents of the village along with activists from around the world gathered in solidarity for a week of commemorative events. Villagers and their supporters built protest tents to symbolize the 45 structures demolished on 27 July 2010, and planted dozens of olive trees as a symbol of the thousands uprooted by the State of Israel. Following a weekend of rebuilding, the police returned to the village on 25 July 2011 and destroyed it for the 28th time. The following day, on the eve of the 1st anniversary of the destruction of the village, the State of Israel initiated a lawsuit against the villagers for NIS 1.8 million for the costs associated with its repeated demolition. Despite the state's continued aggression to forcibly evict the Arab Bedouin from their ancestral land, the people of Al-Araqib remain.
The week of events, running from 21-27 July 2011, was organized by the Local Committee of Al-Araqib and a coalition of local and national NGOs. On Thursday evening 21 July 2011, residents and activists re-built several of the makeshift tents that have come to symbolize the steadfastness of the villagers of Al-Araqib. Representatives from NGOs, political parties, and social movements joined the villagers to express their ongoing support and make preparations for the weekend construction. Building and planting continued on Friday 22 July 2011 with buses of supporters arriving from Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beer el-Sabe. Mossawa Center organized a successful student camp for young activists who assisted with the building of tents and other events throughout the weekend, including activities for children. Villagers organized an interfaith prayer service on Friday afternoon for residents and activists, which took place in one of the newly constructed tents in the village. The prayer was followed by a traditional Bedouin lunch prepared by the women of Al-Araqib.
On Saturday, 23 July 2011, Al-Araqib hosted a community festival in the village's largest tent with speeches by Sheikh Sayyah Al-Touri, Aziz Al-Touri and Dr. Awad Abu Frieh of Al-Araqib, MK Dr. Ahmad Tibi, Ayman Odeh, General Director of Jabha (Hadash), Momtaz Hatib of Dukium, Sheikh Hamad Abu Da'abis of the Islamic Movement, and Dr. Thabet Abu Ras, the director of Adalah's office in the Naqab.
Dukium organized a summer camp for over 50 children in Al-Araqib that began on Sunday, 24 July 2011. On Monday 25 July 2011, the summer camp was interrupted when the police arrived and demolished the village for the 28th time. All of the new structures constructed over the weekend were destroyed and new trees were trampled or uprooted. Despite the traumatic demolition, villagers attended a large march in Beer el-Sabe organized to protest the "housing crisis" in Israel. The march and subsequent rally gave the residents of Al-Araqib an opportunity to discuss the reality of home demolitions in the unrecognized villages, and was an opportunity to express and receive solidarity from fellow citizens.
Adalah will continue support the people of Al-Araqib as they carry on with the just struggle to remain on their ancestral land.
Hear Dr. Thabet Abu Ras speak about the lawsuit against Al-Araqib