On the morning of Thursday, February 17, heavy police forces arrived in Al-Arakib to destroy the makeshift huts built by the village residents — the 18th demolition of the village since July 2011, only one day after the previous demolition which was accompanied by arms fired toward the residents which were driven into their cemetery. In view of the growing protests, the Jewish National Fund is no doubt intensifying its effort to cover the village lands with immense amounts of dirt in order to erase it.
This time as well the residents and a handful of activists were forcefully driven into the cemetery while the JNF bulldozers came onto the village grounds. The pressure on the surrounded residents intensified. Just like previous times, the police forces were illegally keeping Al-Arakib residents and anyone who comes to support them out of the village grounds. Only this time a group of Rahat residents, women, men and children, engaged in a brave show of solidarity.
At about 10:30 in the morning several dozen Rahat residents came to the entrance of the village. The women sat on the side of the road while the men came to the police forces to ask to pray at the village cemetery.
The police refused immediately and announced that they have 30 seconds to clear the area—and immediately began firing at them. The police fired on the group of Rahat women as well, who were sitting on the side of the road.
The people started to flee from the area. Police officers ran after them and blocked highway 40 to traffic.
Seven people were held at the scene, among them Dr. Awwad Abu-Freih, spokesperson for the Al-Arakib Popular Committee. Dr. Awwad Abu Freih was then arrested.
All the photographs that appear here were taken by Oren Ziv of Activestills, who has been accompanying the struggle in Al-Arakib with consistency and bravery. A thousand thanks to Oren: the presence of Oren and Husein Al-Ubra, a Panet journalist, had no doubt helped to safeguard the residents from even harsher violence.
For his part in the action Dr. Awwad Abu-Freih spent the night between Friday and Saturday under arrest. The arrests are meant to break the spirit of the activists — but Awwad's spirit is strong. On Friday he was released without restrictions. There is a price to pay for solidarity — but it is irreplaceable.
- see also photos and video on Panet Website:
- Watch and circulate the video documenting the people of Al-Arakib holding on to their ground in the face of repression: Demolition, Dispossession and Resistance in Al-Arakib, Israel, February 10th 2011