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Israeli bulldozers demolish houses in Negev, level agricultural land

Dec. 7, 2016 4:19 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 7, 2016 10:57 P.M.)
NEGEV (Ma’an) -- Israeli bulldozers demolished two houses in Bedouin villages unrecognized by Israel in the southern Negev region Wednesday morning, locals told Ma’an.

Local sources said forces from the Yoav, the special Israeli police unit created to implement demolitions of Bedouin homes in the Negev, escorted by Israeli bulldozers demolished a house in the village of Atir, and another house that belongs to the al-Jamaaen family in the village of Sawah.

Israeli bulldozers also leveled an agricultural field that belongs to al-Atrash family in Maulida village.

An Israeli police spokesperson said they were looking into reports.

Sawah and Atir are among 35 Bedouin villages considered “unrecognized” by the Israeli state. Last month, the village of al-Araqib was demolished for the 105th time.

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages.

While Bedouins of the Negev are Israeli citizens, the villages unrecognized by the government have faced relentless efforts by the Israeli authorities to expel them from their lands in order to make room for Jewish Israeli homes.

The classification of their villages as “unrecognized” prevents Bedouins from developing or expanding their communities, as their villages are considered illegal by Israeli authorities.

Israeli authorities have also refused to connect unrecognized Bedouin villages to the national water and electricity grids, while excluding the communities from access to health and educational services, and basic infrastructure.

Rights groups have claimed that the demolitions in unrecognized Bedouin villages is a central Israeli policy aimed at removing the indigenous Palestinian population from the Negev and transferring them to government-zoned townships to make room for the expansion of Jewish Israeli communities.

Indigenous rights groups have also pointed out that the transfer of the Bedouins into densely populated townships also removes them from their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyles which is dependent on access to a wide range of grazing land for their animals.

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