The Adalah Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights, a Haifa-based advocacy group, estimates that 22 families made up of 110 people live in Araqib. The villagers return and rebuild after each demolition.
Al-Araqib is one of more than 35 "unrecognised" villages across the desertous Negev region, considered illegal by the government due to their lack of building permits. An estimated 80,000 Bedouin Palestinians who carry Israeli citizenship live in the unrecognised communities, which are often denied state services, including water, electricity, rubbish pick-up and education facilities, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
Contacted by Al Jazeera, Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said he was "not familiar" with the incident. The local police department did not reply to requests for a comment. Israel plans to move residents of unrecognised villages to planned townships. In villages like Umm al-Hiran, the government plans to move Jewish-Israeli citizens onto the lands and change the communities' names. "The Israeli government is incapable of dealing correctly with the Arab Bedouin population and the Arab population at large," Sana Ibn Bari, a lawyer for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), told Al Jazeera. "Our living spaces are being reduced ever since the establishment of Israel and the policy has been to concentrate most of the population into the small settlements." Recently, Israel's Agricultural Minister Uri Ariel introduced a five-year socioeconomic development plan for the Negev to the tune of three billion Israeli shekels ($787mn). Unrecognised villages will be ineligible for funding and infrastructure. The minister has also spoken of plans to revive the Prawer Plan, a legislation that was shelved in 2013 due to large-scale protests across the country. That bill was designed to forcibly relocate residents of unrecognised villages to planned townships.
Earlier this year, parts of a revision draft version, dubbed 'Prawer II', leaked in local media.
Although considered unrecognised, many of these villages predate the establishment of the state of Israel, while others entail Bedouins living on land they were moved to by the Israeli military after being displaced during and after the Nakba in 1948. In a recent position paper, Adalah called on the European Union and its member states to intervene and pressure Israel to abandon efforts to demolish unrecognised villages. The legal centre argues that Israeli polices like those previewed in Prawer II will entail mass evacuations and destruction of villages, denies Bedouin citizens to land ownership rights and violates their constitutional protections. A diverse community of Muslims, Christians, and Druze, an estimated 1.7 million Palestinians carry Israeli citizenship and live in communities across the country. Adalah has documented more than 50 discriminatory laws that target Palestinian citizens of Israel by stifling their political expression and limiting their access to state resources, notably land.
Nadim Nashif, director of the Haifa-based Palestinian advocacy group Baladna, argued that the ongoing efforts to demolish Bedouin homes in the Negev are part of a broader plan to "displace as many Palestinians as possible" onto the smallest amount of land. Palestinian citizens of Israel, who constitute roughly 20 percent of the population, live on around three percent of the country's land, Nashif told Al Jazeera. "Even though we're the indigenous population, there's no land and our villages don't have master plans," he said. "It's a conflict over land in the end." Follow Patrick Strickland on Twitter: @P_Strickland_