Saturday, March 26, 2011

Israel 'declares war on its people'

(Al Jazeera) - You could easily miss the thin, gravel road that leads to Al Arakib, a Bedouin village in the north Negev. It is a bit ironic, given the enormity of the struggle there and its deep implications for the Jewish state.

Israeli forces have razed the village five times since late July, sparking cries of ethnic cleansing and leaving more than 300 Bedouin homeless. But the equally determined residents, along with a handful of Jewish activists, continue to rebuild.

The government claims that Al Arakib was abandoned and, as such, belongs to the state. Israel calls the Bedouin squatters who "infiltrate" the area and settle it illegally. According to the state, these people must be removed to make way for a forest to be planted by the Jewish National Fund.

Villagers, some of whom hold Ottoman-era deeds to the property, say that the Israeli army asked them to leave temporarily in 1951. Believing they would be able to move back, they left. It was then, they say, that the state declared Al Arakib abandoned and expropriated it.