Lawyers and activists are currently negotiating the release of 3 men who were arrested for protesting against the states demolitions of a Palestinian village in the North of the Nakab (Negev). Mohammad Mahajna from Um Il Fahim and Mohammad Masarna are both students at Ben Gurion University; Eyal Nir is a teacher at the university located in Beer Sheba.
The 200 strong demonstration took place at 5 o’clock on Monday evening at the Lahavim Junction near to Al Arakib’s land. The demonstration organised by residents of the village and Dukium (the Negev Forum for Coexistence), and attended by a range of political parties - including Hadash, the Islamic Movement and Badal, grassroots organisation as well many Arab and Jewish citizens, is the second to be held in the area in as many weeks. According to Mumtaz Khateeb of Dukium ”the demonstrations will continue each week. This one been a success, and we hope more people will come to the demonstrations from the Negev and other Arab communities as well as the democratic Jewish people who don’t accept the government’s policy.”
The purpose of this Monday’s demonstration was to support the village. In the last two weeks the village of Al Arakib has been demolished twice leaving almost all residents with no place to go. The initial demolition, taking place on the 27th of July was carried out by around 1500 soldiers and police alongside around 500 police volunteers (students at the local high schools). After the villagers, with the help of volunteers rebuilt some of their homes, the bulldozers, accompanied by the IDF, returned to demolish the village for a second time on the 4th of August. Only a couple of homes remain standing in the village. On Tuesday early morning, Israeli Authorities demolished the village for the third time.
At approximately 5.45 around 50 Israeli police and 15 border police arrived in jeeps to guard 3 caterpillar bulldozers who razed the Palestinian Bedouin village.
Khateeb explains: ‘Before the demolitions they said the land is government land, land for the state of Israel not for the Bedouins’. According to the Israeli Land Administration their intentions is to plant a forest on the land where Al Arakib lies. The residents claim that they have owned the land since before the creation of the Israeli state and have the documents to prove their ownership. The Israeli Land Administration does not recognise these claims and considers the village to be illegal.
According to Mahmoud Madeni, the lawyer defending the 3 men, they will be detained over night and stand before court tomorrow morning. Meanwhile a handful of demonstrators are waiting outside the police station for their release.
Nicky Elliott reporting from the Negev.