Beduin village in Negev demolished

Third time in less than two weeks that Israel Lands Authority bulldozers have razed structures at Kafr al-Arakib.

Gadi Elgazi (photo credit: BEN HARTMAN)
Gadi Elgazi
(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 Rahat.
The demolitions again left dozens of residents without a roof over their heads, this time a day before the beginning of the month of Ramadan.
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.
Photographer 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 support pole.
This is when they arrested me,” Algazi told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday evening.
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 others.
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 – we could not meet with him,” said a senior member of Braverman's staff, noting that the comparison had been particularly painful, as a number of the minister’s relatives had been killed in the Holocaust.
The minister will, however, continue to address the issue, the staff member said – but Prime Minister Binyamin likely without a-Sanaa’s assistance.