Before sunrise on the 27th of July, the residents of the Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb were shaken from their sleep. A could of bulldozers accompanied by no less than 1,300 policemen including horsemen and a helicopter hovered over them. The force threw all 400 residents, citizens of Israel and most of them children, out into the sands, demolished all 40 buildings and cut down hundreds of olive trees. After the event, the residents, with the help of volunteers from all over Israel, have attempted to rebuild a few sheds to protect them from the heat of the summer sun. Twice since the bulldozers returned to destroy the rebuilt houses.
Let us take you into the heart of darkness of the sunlit Negev. The events at Al-Araqeeb are part of a general war of attrition that Israel is leading against the Negev’s Bedouin population since its earliest days. When the residents of Al-Araqeeb were first evicted, in 1951, they were promised that they could return later. Their land was promptly seized and expropriated, without consideration for the residents’ land ownership and with no compensation.
In the midst of a long and still ongoing legal struggle, the residents resumed living on their land and working it, but the state responded by use of force: Repeated demolitions of houses, and even the dusting of their crops with poison, a crime that a high court ruling put a stop to. The latest escalation, the decision to destroy the whole village, is a preparation for the forestation of the area by the JNF.
Culture Guerrilla strongly opposes the uprooting of citizens and replacing them with trees, and hereby embarks on a campaign to preemptively chop down JNF’s forest and replant the song of the Bedouins in the Negev’s hills. The Be’er-Sheva area has been the rightful home of a population predating the Zionist Hityashvut. We remind the government that a democracy belongs to all its citizens and is supposed to serve them, not harm them. We call upon the state to legally recognize Al-Araqeeb and the Bedouins’ right to built on their historical lands.
On Saturday the 21st of August, 15:00, we poets and artists will arrive in Al-Araqeeb to stand in solidarity with its residents, read poetry and play music in protest. The operation is helped and joined by Zochrot and the Negev Coexistence Forum. Come support Al-Araqeeb, come listen to poetry and song, come oppose the destruction and help to plant the seeds of brotherhood that will sprout and become a reality of cooperative growth!
For more information contact Daniel Oz,