(photo credit: BEN HARTMAN)
Dozens of buildings were demolished at an unrecognized Beduin village in the
Negev on Tuesday, the third time in less than two weeks that Israel Lands
Authority bulldozers have razed structures at Kafr al-Arakib outside
The demolitions again left dozens of residents without a roof over
their heads, this time a day before the beginning of the month of
Early in the morning, clerks from the Israel Lands Authority
arrived at the village escorted by dozens of police, including members of the
Border Patrol and officers from the YASSAM anti-riot unit.
Daniel Cherrin, who was one of some 30 Israeli activists who came to the site on
Tuesday to show support for the villagers, said that “they destroyed every
standing structure, be it wooden, sheet metal, even a chicken coop. It only took
a couple of hours and after police left people were already rebuilding and a few
tents were put up very quickly.”
Tel Aviv University Prof. Gadi Algazi
was arrested by police during the demolitions and held for several hours before
he was released.
“I was one of about 30 volunteers who came to try to
stop the demolitions. We tried to stand our ground but they kept forcing us
back. At one point I went into a family’s tent and stood holding the main
This is when they arrested me,” Algazi told The Jerusalem
Algazi said that during the six hours he was in
police custody he underwent questioning and was fingerprinted. He was asked to
sign a restraining order vowing to stay away from the village for the next 15
days, but refused.
“I told them I owe it to the people of the village to
be there,” Algazi said.
The professor’s statements came during a rally
held in central Tel Aviv Tuesday night to show solidarity with the villagers. At
the rally, around 75 demonstrators stood holding signs with slogans such as “We
are all Kafr al-Arakib” and “The state is inflaming the Negev,” among
The protest, which was secured by about a dozen police and border
patrolmen, concluded without incident.
Meanwhile, Minority Affairs
Minister Avishay Braverman canceled a meeting that had been scheduled with MK
Taleb a-Sanaa (UAL-Ta’al) and residents of Kafr al-Arakib after hearing that
a-Sanaa had accused Israeli authorities of acting “worse than the Nazis” during
last week’s demolitions at the village.
Before those demolitions, a-Sanaa
had offered to mediate between the minister and the residents, a request
Braverman initially honored.
“We wanted to help, but after the things we
heard that morning – which a-Sanaa never denied saying or apologized for
could not meet with him,” said a senior member of Braverman's staff,
the comparison had been particularly painful, as a number of the
relatives had been killed in the Holocaust.
The minister will, however,
continue to address the issue, the staff member said – but Prime
Binyamin likely without a-Sanaa’s assistance.