The Jewish National Fund (JNF-KKL) broke its promise today, and resumed working on land belonging to the residents of the Bedouin village of Al Arakib.
Despite a promise made a month ago by JNF-KKL directorate chairman Efi Shtentzler, that the JNF-KKL would not work on four plots of land belonging to the village of Al Arakib, local residents reported seeing JNF-KKL agricultural equipment preparing village land for planting trees earlier today.
Last week, Israeli police in the city of Rahat informed Sheikh Sayakh Al-Turi, leader of Al Arakib, that they intended to secure JNF-KKL works in the village. This morning, the warning became a reality, as JNF-KKL bulldozers, accompanied by police forces and special police units, were in Al Arakib.
Aziz Abu Madiam, village resident and son of Sheikh Al-Turi, reported that the JNF-KKL was preparing the ground for planting trees in plot number 24, one of the four plots of land where they had promised not to work. Later, the JNF-KKL confirmed that they had indeed been working in that particular area.
Al Arakib, a Bedouin village located just north of Be’er Sheva, has been demolished 34 times since July 2010 to make way for a JNF-sponsored forest.
The work carried out today also came despite the recommendation of District Court judge Nechama Netzer to avoid transforming the land until ongoing legal proceedings are settled.
Haia Noach, Director of the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality, who was in Al Arakib this morning, said:
The mechanism of dispossession has used all the governmental units available: green patrol cars, police and special units accompanied by bulldozers are standing in front of dozens of village residents and activists, who are trying to save what little slice of land that remains for the village. Instead of finding an agreed-upon solution and waiting for the court’s decision, JNF-KKL comes to the village under massive police protection and takes the last lands of the village. The residents of the Negev don’t need more forests; we need sustainable equality and the application of the right to an adequate standard of living for all the residents of the Negev.
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