Sheikh Sayach Al-Turi holds the eviction order he received
On 21 May 2014, 8 eviction orders were pasted onstructures in the cemetery at Al-Arakib and one was handed out to Sheikh Sayach Al-Turi, the Sheikh of the village. The eviction is to be effected between 12 June and 12 July – a “flexible eviction”. Some of the orders have been issued against persons who are no longer living and are buried in the cemetery, as well as against people no longer resident in the village. Despite some 63 demolitions of the village since 2010, the cemetery, with several homes and other structures within its confines, including a small improvised mosque and minaret for calling people to prayer, has so far been left untouched by the authorities. However, last March various authorities entered the perimeter and photograph the buildings for the first time. This latest order is a new and very disturbing development with far reaching implications beyond the confines of Al-Arakib itself. It could cause a conflagration throughout the Negev.
Al-Arakib, a village of some 350people went over a massive demolishion in July 2010, including its crops and water supply. The residents however, in spite of brutal police behavior, arrests and injuries did not give up and have maintained a constant presence, rebuilding their structures each time the village was demolished anew. The Police sew the families and has claimed over 1.8 million shekels from the residents as ‘payment’ for expenses they had because of the demolition operations.
Since that demolition in 2010 Sheikh Sayach Al-Turi, who has led the resistance to the demolitions has been frequently harassed and was arrested several times for trespass. Sheikh Sayach was charged by the state on this issues in more than 20 court cases, and was handed several times with restraining orders preventing him from returning to the village, as have other members of his family. The firm stand of the people of Al-Arakib is not merely a symbol. It may well be that their resistance has deterred the authorities from pursuing equally draconian measures against the many other Bedouin villages under threat of demolition.
Sheikh Sayach Al-Turi says in response:
“To all the Jews who believe in equality and that it is possible for Arabs and Jews to live together, mobilise 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, no place 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 is still under consideration by the courts and have not been finally resolved. NCF together with other partners will explore the legal avenues that can be pursued in an attempt to avert this disastrous edict.