A photographic documentation of the Al-Araqib village between the years 2009-2011. Al-Araqib is one of the 45 unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev desert, south Israel. Since July 27, 2010 till the end of 2011, the village was demolished 33 times. Despite of daily harassment, ongoing house demolitions and the Israeli government's determination to forcefully transfer the Bedouin population out of their historical land, the residents of Al-Araqib continue to struggle for their land.
Photos by: Oren Ziv, Yotam Ronen and Keren Manor/Activestills.org
Following the 1948 War, the Bedouin population in the Negev Desert, in southern Israel, was forced to change its way of life. Prior to that time, Bedouins wandered freely in the deserts which are now under Israeli, Egyptian and Jordanian jurisdiction.In 1953, the Israeli army ordered many of the Bedouins, among them those in the village of Al-Araqib, to abandon their lands for six months during which time the army performed military exercises; to this day, the right of the Bedouins to return to their land has not been recognized.In contrast to their traditional nomadic origins, many Bedouins were moved to permanent urban settlements where they suffered from unemployment, crime and an inability to adjust to an urban way of life. In the 1950s, a small number of Bedouin managed to return to their land in the village of Al-Araqib and were joined by a number of families in the late 1990s who understood that if they did not return, they would lose the right to their land.Because the villages are considered “unrecognized,” they have no infrastructure – no electricity or water, no health and educational services or road and sewage systems. The Israeli authorities have made the lives of the dwellers impossible. Those who returned suffer from the constant destruction of their dwellings, classified as illegal, and of their agricultural crops. In 2009, the Jewish National Fund (Keren KayemethLeIsrael) began planting the Ambassadors Forest on the lands of Al-Araqib in an effort to complete the authority’s appropriation of the land, and to prevent the dwellers from using the land for housing or farming. Since July 27, 2010 till the end of 2011, the village was demolished 33 times but the residents continue to struggle and to live on their land.