Israeli Occupation Ramps Up Demolition of Palestinian Homes in Naqab Amid Settlement Expansion
In a highly controversial move, Israeli bulldozers, accompanied by Israeli occupation forces and far-right government ministers, carried out the demolition of Palestinian structures in the village of Tel Arad in the occupied Naqab region on Tuesday. The incident has triggered widespread condemnation, fueling tensions in the area.
Under the watchful eyes of Israeli Minister of Housing and Construction, Yitzchak Goldknopf, and Israeli Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir, the demolition operation specifically targeted houses, tents, and animal pens belonging to Palestinian Bedouins. Israeli authorities justified their actions by claiming that the structures were constructed without the necessary permits, citing prior drone surveillance as evidence. However, Palestinians argue that the Israeli government consistently denies them building permits, effectively using alleged illegal construction as a pretext to forcibly displace them from their ancestral lands.
Osama al-Oqbi, a prominent Palestinian leader in the Naqab region, decried the demolition as an “unprecedented escalation” by an “Israeli extreme right-wing government” bent on expelling indigenous Palestinians from their homeland. Al-Oqbi defiantly pledged to rebuild the destroyed houses, vowing to resist what he perceives as unjust Israeli policies.
The Tel Arad demolition is not an isolated incident. On the same day, Israeli bulldozers also razed a house under construction in the Ein Ibrahim neighborhood of Umm al-Fahm city, claiming a lack of permits. Palestinian residents were forcibly prevented by Israeli occupation forces from approaching the demolition site, as the forces tightly secured the operation.
These demolitions are part of a broader pattern in the occupied lands, where Palestinians have resided since the 1948 Nakba. Israeli occupation forces have routinely carried out demolitions under various pretexts. Recent months have witnessed the destruction of fences, houses, farms, and livestock pens in Ein Ibrahim and other areas.
As part of a coalition agreement with the Religious Zionist Party, Israel’s far-right government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has earmarked an astounding 1.6 billion shekels (approximately $443 million) for expediting Jewish settlement initiatives in the Naqab region over the next two years. The stated objective of this allocation is purportedly to “improve the demographic balance” in the area. Additionally, Israeli reports indicate that the occupation authorities have greenlit the construction of five new settlements in the Naqab desert.
The demolition in Tel Arad stands as a stark reminder of the ongoing challenges faced by Palestinians in their struggle to safeguard their homes, lands, and fundamental rights in the face of Israeli policies and actions.