uptick in number of Bedouin structures demolished in Israel last year

The number of structures demolished in Bedouin Palestinian communities in Israel nearly doubled in 2017 compared to the previous year, according to a report in Haaretz.

Official government data for 2017 revealed that 2,220 structures were demolished overall, compared to 1,158 in 2016.

More than 70 per cent of the destroyed structures were demolished by the owners themselves, so as to avoid the “heavy financial penalties” imposed on them by occupation forces if Israel completes the demolition.

According to Haaretz, “police see the rise in owner-demolitions as a positive trend, because it prevents confrontations between the police and the Bedouin community.”

Bedouin Palestinian citizens of Israel, largely located in the southern Naqab/Negev region, say that they are being subjected to “behind the scenes” pressure and threats by authorities, reports Haaretz, leading people to demolish their own homes and other structures.

Haya Noah, director of the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality, told the paper that “the threats and pressure have their effect”.

“They’ve [Israeli authorities] developed a mechanism of intimidation that makes in unnecessary to file suits afterward,” she said.

Haaretz says that the 2017 figure for demolitions “is the highest since the state started keeping track in 2013”.

The structures demolished include not just homes, but also gates, sheds and other agriculture-related structures.

Israeli authorities have refused to “legalise” dozens of Bedouin Palestinian communities in the Negev, and restricted the ability of “recognised” communities to naturally grow.

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