On Monday al-Arakib, a Bedouin village known for being demolished over 50 times since 2010, was again destroyed for the 54th time. The day after that four leaders from nearby towns were arrested. In court on Wednesday the state explained their rationale for the arrests: to implement a restraining order on community leaders, keeping them far their homes and villages.
The arrested men, all from the Beersheva area in southern Israel, reside in a region at-risk for evictions under the Prawer Plan. An estimated 30,000 Palestinians will be forced to leave their homes and grazing lands under this state registration policy. Still, Prawer is months away from its last Knesset reading. Therefore evictions under this program should not occur until the fall. Activists are then wondering, why the restraining orders?
The Israeli activist group Tarabut posted this update today:
The real purpose behind the arbitrary arrest of Sheikh Sayah, Azez, Salim and Seyf A-Touri was revealed in a Beersheva court yesterday, when the authorities presented their condition for releasing the detainees: that they be legally prevented from being in Al-Arakib — on their land, in their village, with their families. Attorney Shahde Ibn Bari mentioned that the courts had previously prevented the state from registering the village’s lands under its name, that previous allegations were proven to be false in the past, and that this is a blatant attempt to force an outcome of a civil ownership matter using the criminal justice system. The judge decided that arguments will proceed on 8/30, Friday, but he conditioned the release of the detainees on their keeping their distance from Al-Arakib and its lands until that time. Sheikh Sayah and the other detainees refused to be released, and were pushed out violently by the jailers.
They have stood all day today, Thursday in front of the Rahat police station demanding that the conditions of their release be canceled immediately. They announced that they would be willing to be re-arrested immediately in order to cancel their ban on entering the village. Meanwhile, the women of Al-Arakib continue to hold on to their lands and homes with every ounce of determination they have.
What this means:
There is a risk that the authorities will try to use this opportunity in order to expel Al-Arakib’s residents from their village. The presence of volunteers is needed immediately!
Make no mistake, the authorities have begun enforcing the Prawer plan, the great dispossession, expulsion and colonization plan. The machinery of oppression and destruction is already operating, as the last few days have tragically shown with demolitions in numerous villages, and there have been money offers made to people in exchange for them giving up their land claims. Al-Arakib is only the first in line.