Israeli Occupation Forces on Monday razed the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev Desert for the 78th time in four years, local residents said, while four Palestinian minors were detained in Jerusalem.
An Araqib resident who asked to remain anonymous told Anadolu news agency that “dozens of Israeli forces backed by five bulldozers stormed the village at dawn today and began demolishing homes and other structures.”
“The soldiers were heavily armed. They drove us out under the rain before they demolished our homes for 78th time in four years,” he added.
The village was demolished for the first time in recent history in July 2010, before being rebuilt with metal and wood.
The Israeli government classifies approximately 40 villages in the Negev Desert as “unrecognized,” arguing that the roughly 53,000 Palestinian Bedouins living there cannot prove their ownership of the land and are hence living there “illegally.”
Dozens of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship who live in Araqib say that they have owned the land since before Israel came into being in 1948.
Mohammed Abu Fireh, one of the Araqib villagers whose house was demolished, told Anadolu that he will rebuild his house immediately.
“I have seven members in the family. I will rebuild my house immediately or they will die from the cold,” Abu Fireh said.
“They can’t remove us from our land. This has been our land for hundreds of years, and it will be our sons’ land as well,” he said
Claiming that most of the land in the Negev Desert is “state property,” the self-proclaimed Zionist state has repeatedly demolished Bedouin homes in the area.
Four minors detained for throwing stones
Meanwhile, in annexed East Jerusalem, Israeli forces detained three Palestinian minors, whose ages range from 10 to 12, for suspected involvement in throwing rocks on a street leading to the Jewish cemetery in southern Jerusalem.
Israeli police said in a statement Monday that the parents of the children were summoned for questioning.
Earlier this month, the Israeli cabinet approved new legislation which will be added to the Israeli penal code and would allow the imposition of a prison sentence up to 20 years for those convicted of throwing stones or other objects at Israeli vehicles.
According to a report by the Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights, Israeli forces arrested nearly 3,000 Palestinian children from the beginning of 2010 to mid-2014, the majority of them between the ages of 12 and 15 years old.
The report also documented dozens of videos of recorded testimonies from children arrested during the first months of 2014, emphasizing that 75 percent of the detained children are subjected to physical torture and 25 percent faced military trials.
Also on Monday, Israeli police detained a Palestinian girl in Jerusalem’s Old Town after several women protested being barred from entering the al-Aqsa mosque compound by Israeli authorities, according to eyewitnesses.
Tensions have been running high in the occupied West Bank, annexed East Jerusalem and other regions in Occupied Palestine, where in recent weeks Israeli forces shot and killed six Palestinians.
The anger has been further provoked by the Israeli authorities’ decision to hold a vote on splitting the al-Aqsa compound, Islam’s third holiest site, despite the existence of a Jewish prayer area at the Western Wall literally next door.
Israeli forces have long restricted Palestinians’ access to the al-Aqsa compound based on age and gender, but further prevented Muslim worshipers from entering the mosque for weeks while facilitating the entrance for Zionist extremists. Restrictions were temporarily lifted on Friday for the main weekly prayers and then reimposed.
Recent clashes between Israeli Occupation Forces and Palestinians protesting the storming of al-Aqsa by several far-right Israeli members of the Knesset as well as groups of Zionist settlers, prompted Jordan to recall its ambassador to Israel and move to file a UN complaint.
Furthermore, in a move likely to further heighten tensions around al-Aqsa, Israel’s Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said late Wednesday that Israel will “increase the supervision of people entering the [al-Aqsa] compound” by reintroducing metal detectors and facial-recognition technology that was removed from the compound’s entrances in 2000.
In September 2000, a visit to al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon triggered what later became known as the “Second Intifada,” a popular uprising against Israel’s decades-long occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed the city of Jerusalem in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.