Israeli police demolish Bedouin village for 157th time

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Palestinian youth confront an Israeli raid on their village … 28 Palestinians were detained during raids by Israeli troops in the West Bank and Jerusalem on Monday

ISRAELI authorities and their heavily armed police force demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Naqab desert in southern Israel for the 157th consecutive time on Sunday afternoon.

Israeli police broke into the village and dismantled and confiscated the tin homes residents build every time their village is demolished, leaving the local residents, including children, homeless in the hot weather.

In addition, an Israeli court imposed a fine of  NIS1,600,000 (around $453,000) a few days ago on the residents of the village for the cost of demolishing and evacuating it and under the pretext that Bedouins are trespassing on state-owned land.

The first demolition of al-Araqib took place in late June 2010.

It is one of 35 Bedouin villages which the Israeli government dubs ‘unrecognised’.

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Naqab Bedouins reside in ‘unrecognised’ villages, which the state refuses to provide with a planning structure and place under municipal jurisdiction.

ACRI said the Israeli government uses a variety of measures to pressure Bedouins into relocating to government-planned urban centres that disregard their lifestyle and needs.

‘Whole communities have been issued demolition orders; others are forced to continue living in unrecognised villages that are denied basic services and infrastructure, such as electricity and running water,’ said the centre.

Meanwhile, on Monday the Israeli military authorities demolished a mosque and a house in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, according to local sources.

Israeli army units used a bulldozer to destroy al-Ummah mosque in Jabal Jouhar south of Hebron city.

The demolition included a water well used by the mosque, reported the head of the Hebron Waqf department Jamal Abu Arram, who said that the demolition came as a surprise to them and without a prior warning.

Waqf officials described the demolition of the mosque as an aggression against Muslim holy places and a provocation, as well as a crime against the right of Muslims to worship.

The army also demolished a house which was still under construction in the same area.

The demolitions took place in Area C, which is under full Israeli military rule and where Palestinians say construction with a permit is impossible to get since Israel does not allow Palestinian development in Area C which makes up over 60 per cent of the area of the occupied West Bank.

Elsewhere, early on Monday morning, the Israeli army detained 28 Palestinians during raids on their homes in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) reported.

It said the army detained seven men from the Hebron district, including Thayer Halahleh who already spent several years in Israeli prisons, most of them in administrative detention without charge or trial, and went on hunger strike for 78 days in 2012 to secure his release.

The army also detained six Palestinians from the Jenin district and two from the Qalqilya area, both in the north of the West Bank, three from the Bethlehem district in the south of the West Bank and one from Sinjil village near Ramallah.

In addition, Israeli forces detained eight young Palestinians from Issawiyeh neighbourhood in occupied Jerusalem and one from Abu Dis town, east of Jerusalem.

More than 200 Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jail of Rimon started an open-ended hunger strike on Monday in protest against the installation of jamming devices in the prison, which they fear cause cancer, and to demand better conditions, mainly for women prisoners in nearby Damon prison, the Detainees and Ex Detainees Commission said in a press statement.

It said negotiations between the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) and representatives of prisoners in section four in Rimon prison have failed, and reached a dead end because the IPS will not accept the prisoners’ demands and have retaliated by shutting down two sections in the prison.

The commission condemned the IPS for not accepting the most basic demands by the prisoners.

Also on Monday, Samir Abu Baker, member of Ya’bad town council, expressed his fears that Israel intends to block the main access road to the town which is located southwest of the West Bank city of Jenin.

He said that Israeli forces placed cement blocks at the entrance of the town apparently in preparation to set up a permanent checkpoint or to totally block the main access road.

Such a step would obstruct movement of residents, he said.

Israel severely restricts Palestinians’ movement in the occupied territories through a complex combination of approximately 100 fixed checkpoints, flying checkpoints, settler-only roads and various other physical obstructions.

The Detainees and Ex Detainees Commission warned on Monday that two Palestinians held in Israeli jails are critically ill and one of them may die.

Commission director, Qadri Abu Bakr, told the Palestinian WAFA news agency that Sami Abu Diak and Bassam Sayeh are suffering a serious deterioration in their health and that one of them may die at any time.

Abu Diak, 33, from the northern West Bank city of Jenin who is serving a life sentence for resisting the Israeli occupation, suffers from multiple diseases, including skin poisoning, kidney failure and a large part of his colon was removed.

He has recently lost the ability to drink or eat.

Sayeh, who is also serving a life sentence, is suffering from blood cancer.

‘Abu Diak and Sayeh live today on very strong painkillers and they cannot stand or eat.

‘Their bodies do not respond to drugs and they have difficulty talking,’ said Abu Bakr.

‘Their situation, according to what we hear, is critical, particularly Sayeh whose situation is getting very serious.’

Palestinians have accused the Israeli authorities of failing to provide proper medical treatment or even deliberately delaying treatment to ill prisoners causing the deterioration in their health.

The Prisoners Commission said Israel’s measures against ill Palestinian prisoners violate international law and are an assault on their rights.

They are demanding international and human rights organisations put pressure on the Israeli authorities to release them so they can receive proper medical treatment to save their lives.

The Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Riyad Al-Malki, met with his Bulgarian counterpart, Ekaterina Zaharieva in Sofia, Bulgaria’ capital on Monday, where they discussed the latest developments in the local and regional area, issues of mutual concern, and political and economic challenges facing Palestine.

They further discussed forms of support and assistance that Bulgaria can provide to Palestine in international forums; through voting on resolutions concerning Palestine, developing trade and economic cooperation between the two countries, providing scholarships for Palestinian students in Bulgaria, and ways of joint cooperation.

For her part, the Bulgarian minister affirmed her country’s support for the Palestinian people and government and the two-state solution, and compliance to resolutions of international legitimacy in order to achieve peace and the establishment of an independent state of Palestine.

‘As a result of the lack of political perspectives, we may witness new outbreaks of violence and tension in both Gaza and the West Bank,’ said Zaharieva in a Bulgarian Foreign Ministry statement.

She said that the resumption of open and direct negotiations between the two sides, as well as compliance with the Oslo and Paris international agreements, was at the heart of the solution.

On August 28, Bulgaria’s cabinet approved a draft agreement for cooperation in the fields of education, science, culture, youth and sports between the governments of Bulgaria and Palestine for the period 2019-2024, according to Bulgarian National Radio (BNR).