Yesterday, Daniel Dukarevich posted an eyewitness account (Hebrew) of the eradication of the Bedouin Negev village of Al-Araqeeb by the Israeli police and military. It is disturbing and moving and worth reading to learn how this evil decree was implemented:
Translation: Dena Shunra
I don’t have a fully congruent recollection of this night and this morning at Al Araqeeb. It’s probably better this way. All that is left is the images of the village being razed. An evil tale. Like watching a kaleidoscope where every image depicts horror.
Night. We arrive at Al Araqeeb, a village somewhat north of Beer Sheva. People and animals are running around among the tents and the houses. The air his heavy with tension, and the unspoken question in the face of every one of our hosts is: Are they coming? Or maybe not?
We are deep into the night. Eight or nine village youngsters are dancing and singing by a bonfire. Other bonfires are aflame on all the surrounding hills, casting the black smoke of burning tires into the already-black sky. They warn us, cast up a warning of some danger. Are they coming? Or maybe not?
Convoys of lights draw nearer, from every direction. A convoy, and a convoy, and a convoy. The first rays of the rising sun shed their light on black-clad soldiers, faces covered, among the hundreds of vehicles. Marching. Weapons at the ready. Surrounding the village. They came.
The valleys all around are strewn with military vehicles. Helicopters and unmanned planes are up in the air. The sun has risen. We count soldiers, then cars, then buses. There are thousands. Despair begins to run through us.
Soldiers – facers covered – run into the village. Several residents and activists who were standing in their way are beaten, pushed back, thrown to the ground. A young woman pushes her way in, trips, falls onto the rocks, and cries out in pain. A soldiers stands over her, covered in black, face veiled, and laughs a laugh that I will never forget.
Bulldozers are razing the village now. They crush the tin shanties, uproot everything that stands in their path. The villagers watch, too tired even to shout. One of them cries out in pain when the bulldozer pulls the olive trees out of the ground. “Leave the trees, at least, what have they done wrong? We’ve been growing them for ten years now.” “You shouldn’t even have shade,” murmurs one of the policemen.
A little Bedouin boy ambles around the ruins of what had been his home. I don’t know how he got through the cordon of policemen. A colorful shred of cloth from among the piles of dirt gets his attention.
All of a sudden, a policeman appears. He sees the child. He makes the kind of gesture you’d make to swat away a fly, to make the kid go away.
The kid goes, but after taking a few steps he can’t help himself: he stops, looks over his shoulder.
The policeman gestures again. The kid goes away.
The village has been destroyed. Crushed water tanks drip onto parched earth. A chicken hides under the branches of a felled olive tree. The Special Patrol Unit squadron stops for a souvenir photo near a large pile that had been, until an hour ago, a family’s home.
The warriors laugh. They stand there, arms over each other’s shoulders. They seem to be happy.
One of our activists is weeping. He stands there, leans on the car, and cries quietly. I want to give him a hug, to tell him it will be all right, but I cannot. I cannot find inside myself even a drop of ability to help. There is nothing inside me.
And one that is yet to happen
I hated you today, villains, as I have never hated before. But this won’t work for you.
In the last image, you will see people who’ll rebuild their home, out of the sand and out of the desert. Aided by those citizens here who still have a drop of humanity inside them.
In the last image, you will see olive trees planted and growing, tended and houses being rebuilt.
In the last image, you will see Al Araqeeb coming to life again.
You will not erase it.
The Sheikh Jarrah solidarity activists who took part in the resistance to the razing of the village of Al Araqeeb call on everyone to bring aid for the Al Araqeeb refugees to Friday’s demonstration. You can bring blankets, toys, clothes, large tents, and money. There will be a table dedicated to collecting the donations and bringing them to Al Araqeeb, to help with the rebuilding and rehabilitation.
For Hebrew readers, another terrific post on the devastation, Law in Service to Thievery, by Niv Eyal.