In Al-Arakib, even the dead face eviction

The Bedouin village of Al-Arakib has been demolished 63 times since 2010. Now it’s dealing with its latest challenge: eviction orders for the deceased.

By Michal Rotem (translated by Yehudit Keshet)

On May 21, 2014, eight eviction orders were placed on structures in the cemetery of Al-Arakib, a Bedouin village in the Negev that has been demolished over 60 times. The evictions are to take place between June 12 and July 12 – what’s known as a “flexible eviction.”

However, some of the eviction orders were also issued against people who are no longer living, and are buried in the village cemetery, as well as against people who no longer resident in the village. Although Al-Arakib has faced 63 demolitions since 2010, the cemetery, along with several homes and a small improvised mosque, has so far been left untouched by the authorities. However, various authorities entered the perimeter and photographed the buildings for the first time several months ago. This latest order is a new and disturbing development, with far-reaching implications beyond the confines of Al-Arakib itself, which have the potential to cause a conflagration throughout the Negev.

Sheikh Sayah A-Turi holds up an eviction notice in his village of Al-Arakib. (photo: Michal Rotem)
Sheikh Sayah A-Turi holds up an eviction notice in his village of Al-Arakib. (photo: Michal Rotem)

Al-Arakib, a village of some 350 people, underwent a massive demolition in July 2010, which included its crops and water supply. Despite police violence, arrests and injuries, the residents do not give up and rebuild their structures each time the village is demolished. Since 2010, Sheikh Sayah Al-Turi, who has led the resistance to the demolitions, has been frequently harassed and was even arrested several times for trespassing.

IN PHOTOS: Al-Arakib ongoing struggle for its land

In response to the eviction orders, Sheikh Sayah said the following:

To all the Jews who believe in equality and that it is possible for Arabs and Jews to live together, mobilize in support of truth and justice and stand up for every Bedouin home that this racist government intends to demolish. The state tells the Bedouin: you don’t have a place in the Negev or in Israel. This is a great loss for the Bedouin and a great loss for the Jews. As long as there is no recognition of Bedouin rights to their lands, there will be no peace in the region, no equality and no justice.

There are a number of legal issues arising from the latest order, not the least of which is the fact that the case of Al-Arakib and its land claims are still under consideration by the courts.

Michal Rotem works for the Negev Forum for Coexistence and is based in Be’er Sheva. This story first appeared in Hebrew on Local Call.

For more +972 coverage of Al-Arakib:
PHOTOS: Al-Arakib Bedouin’s ongoing struggle for their land
Al-Araqib demolished for 62nd time as residents attend Knesset protest
Lying by omission: The JNF’s role in setting Negev land policy