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Israel destroys dozens of Bedouin homes in Negev desert

By AFP

May 9, 2024 11:10 AM


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Israeli authorities destroyed around 50 homes belonging to Bedouins in the Negev desert on Wednesday, an AFP journalist reported, with Israel's far-right national security minister saying they were "illegal constructions".

Bulldozers flattened the houses in the Wadi al-Khalil village, sparking anger among members of its 500-strong community.

"There are more than 500 people here. (Now) the children and the women have nowhere else to go," said resident Sleiman Abu Asa.

"They are demolishing our homes, leaving us stranded outside," he added as police were deployed to monitor the operation.

"We don't deserve this. We've sought a solution for years, hoping for a fair resolution, yet the state has obstructed all our options."

Israel considers the homes built in Wadi al-Khalil to be illegal.

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir reiterated this in remarks posted online Wednesday.

The Wadi al-Khalil homes are "illegal constructions", he said, warning anyone who "violates the law in the Negev" desert of southern Israel.

The destruction, he said, was "an important step" indicating the government's authority would not be challenged.

"The police will fight anyone who seizes land and tries to build another reality on the ground," said Ben Gvir.

Before Israel's creation in 1948, the Negev desert was home to approximately 92,000 Bedouins. But only 11,000 remained within Israel's borders after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, according to Adalah, an advocacy group for Arab minorities in Israel.

Many of them refused to be resettled in the cities, and Bedouins have continued to face difficulties in Israeli society ever since.

Today there are around 300,000, half of whom live in cities and half in villages not recognised by Israel, according to Adalah.

These villages lack most basic services, such as garbage collection.

According to Arab Israeli activist Taleb el-Sana a total of 48 homes were flattened by Israeli bulldozers on Wednesday, "leaving children and women homeless".

"An entire village was wiped out just because its inhabitants are Arab" and "under the pretext of unlicensed construction", he said.

According to Sana, Israel "doesn't allow (Bedouin) citizens to obtain building permits and then "demolishes their homes under the pretext of a lack of permits".

"We don't deserve this," said Abu Asa.

"We have sought a solution for years, hoping for a fair resolution but the state has obstructed all our options," he added.


AFP


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