Police Clash With Bedouin Attempting to Rebuild Razed Unrecognized Village

Bedouins say police used excessive force while attempting to stop residents of unrecognized Negev village from rebuilding homes and other buildings that were demolished last week.

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Residents of an unrecognized Bedouin village north of Be'er Sheva clashed yesterday with Israel Lands Administration inspectors and police attempting to stop residents from rebuilding the village, where dozens of homes and other buildings were demolished last week.

The Bedouin villagers say police used excessive force. Two political figures were hurt or required medical treatment, including Hadash party official Iman Udah, who was one of six people were detained and released after questioning.

MK Talab al-Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al ) fainted during the confrontation in Al-Arakib yesterday and was taken to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva for treatment. At the time, he was apparently in a tent erected to protest the demolition.

Last week the authorities razed dozens of structures and homes in Al-Arakib after government officials decided it was built illegally on state land.

Israel Lands Administration inspectors, accompanied by dozens of policemen, tore down several structures in the village yesterday. The villagers had erected tents in the village in an effort to rebuild it immediately, and did the same thing after inspectors left yesterday.

Volunteers from the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee and several political activists had helped the villagers rebuild their homes over the past few days, and the group said yesterday it would continue to do so.

"All attempts to uproot the residents of the village will ultimately fail," the Al-Arakib village committee said in a statement yesterday. "The attempt to uproot Bedouin citizens from their communities constitutes a serious insult to all Bedouin."

The statement said the demolitions deepen the distrust between the state and the Bedouin community.

The Israel Lands Administration said the village was evacuated after many years of legal and physical struggles against the tribe that lives there.

An ILA spokesman said the Bedouin took over the state-owned land in 1998 and were banned from entering it by a court order issued in 2000.

But the tribe moved in and planted trees, refusing the ILA's offer to rent them the land at a price of NIS 2 per dunam. The ILA received a court order to evacuate the residents in 2003, and the Supreme Court later agreed that the Bedouin were living in the area illegally.

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