Ibn Ezra (Joseph Dana), an Israeli photographer, film maker and writer who is also a political activist, has done a great job in recording the third Israeli military destruction of the small Bedouin village (encampment might be a better word) of Al-Araqiib in Israel’s northern Negev desert this morning.
It was the third destruction of this community in less than three weeks.
This “unrecognized” Israeli village is reportedly being destroyed in preparation for making a Jewish National Fund forest in its place.
Ibn Ezra posted news about the impending demolition on Twitter just before 10 pm Monday evening, saying he was on his way to the site.
There is something extremely chilling about using military bulldozers to tear down tents — it increases the awfulness of destroying the homes of people who are already living precariously.
It is difficult even to imagine the terror and disorientation of seeing one’s own home destroyed by military force before one’s own eyes…
Writing tonight on the Electronic Intifida website (which usually can’t turn material around this fast), after nearly 24 hours of non-stop reporting — and travelling to and from the site — Ibn Ezra said that when he arrived on the scene last night, before the third demolition carried out this morning, “Simple tent structures consisting of four wood shafts and a black tarp was the only remains of this village. We, Israeli and international activists, were invited to sit in these tents through the night and sip coffee in the cool desert night with the villagers. They told us about their livelihood now that the village is constantly facing demolition. Some talked about their military service in the Israeli army and their disbelief that the country they served could behave in such a way as to destroy their entire village … [As] the light began to change, the first sounds of the demolition crew could be heard far off in the distance. Before we had time to blink, 200 fully clad police officers were on microphones telling us to leave and that any violence would be met with harsher violence. As soon as the voices on the microphones stopped, the bulldozers began to work. The place we had been sitting and having coffee through the night was leveled before our groggy, disbelieving eyes. The demolition crew worked efficiently and without pause. Every structure that served some form of life in the village was leveled and all the building materials from it were trucked away. As we were pushed further from the village, a couple of activists tried to sit inside or in front of the tents. This was met with violence by the police as people were thrown to the ground like rag dolls. At one point in the chaos, a professor of medieval history at Tel Aviv University was grabbed by a police officer, who quickly wrenched his hand behind his back. The professor was held like this for a number of minutes and then arrested. It is still unclear under what terms. Finally, the police confined us to a hilltop and had us look over the village as it was destroyed. The water canisters, which are needed because Israel refuses to give the villagers water pipes, were broken and then placed on flat bed trucks to be carted away. The image of massive bulldozers flanked by heavily armed riot police destroying makeshift Bedouin living structures is something that no one would be able to forget. As soon as the forces left, the villagers began rebuilding what little they have left. Every week, their resources shrink and yet they rebuild. They have no choice”. This report can be read in full here.
There is more from Joseph Dana on Facebook, and this is from his Ibn Ezra account on Twitter”
They are destroying el arakib again. I am leaving jerusalem soon and will be live tweeting through the night from there
9:52 PM Aug 9th
Middle of the night 10 km away from the village
Sun is just beginning to peak in the desert
Army just arrived in the village
Massive police force now
Destroying the village now and beating us
I have never seen anything like this in my life
The police are very violent now. This is very bad
They are destroying the entire village again
They have penned us in and are destroying the entire village before our eyes
I have no words. This is just violence
I have never seen anything like. Beyond words only pain
The villages has been destroyed and now the army is taking all the materials away so it can’t be rebuilt
When that is done they are going to spray the area with the shunk so the area is toxic for a week
There are about 400 heavily armed soldiers in the village which has about twenty residents. There are 30 activists roughly
They started at 6 in the morning. There are 3 injuries among the activists from major army violence
Just so it is clear. It is difficult to take photos on a blackberry while you are being hit with a club. That is why there are no vio shots
Army is gone and we are rebuilding the village now
And, more photos are also available here.
[Al-Araqib was destroyed, then partially rebuilt, on 27 July, 6 August, 10 August — while several other nearby villages were destroyed on 3 August. Bedouin communities have also been destroyed in the West Bank, including in the Jordan Valley.]
Max Blumenthal, who was also apparently at Al-Araqib overnight and today, has chilling reports on his blog here and here that Israeli youth volunteers were organized to participate in the first demolition of Al-Araqib on 26-27 July.