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Israel plans to raze Arab village in Negev

Palestinian villagers have been given warning that their homes will be demolished within days
The Israeli Prawer Plan envisions the destruction of approximately 35 legally unrecognized villages (AFP)

Jerusalem – Residents of Wadi al-Na'am, an Arab village in Israel's southern Negev region, say they were warned by the Israeli Land Authority that their village would be demolished within days, a Palestinian rights activist said Thursday.

"The decision comes in accordance with the Prawer Plan," said Suleiman Abo Obeid, spokesman for the Al-Naqab Organization for Land and Man, referring to a controversial Israeli bill that would allow Israeli authorities to seize 800,000 acres of Arab land in the Negev.

"We have begun taking countermeasures against the demolition after consulting with Arab Palestinian dignitaries in the Negev," said Abo Obeid.

The scheme, dubbed the "Prawer Plan," envisions the confiscation of 800,000 acres of Arab land in the Negev, the destruction of 35 legally unrecognized villages and the expulsion of 75,000 of the area's local inhabitants.

The Israeli government, for its part, says the plan aims to "regulate Arab communities" in the Negev.

The Israeli army recently established a massive military base adjacent to the southern city of Beersheba, where Wadi al-Na'am village is located.

Around 220,000 Palestinians reside in the Negev Desert, which lies within Israeli territory, according to Israeli statistics.

Some villages and compounds in the Negev have existed for centuries. Yet consecutive Israeli governments have continued to deny Palestinians ownership of the land on which their homes are built.

As a result, many homes in the Negev have been denied access to public infrastructure by Israeli authorities, according to local residents.

The Negev Desert accounts for about half of the land of historical Palestine before Israel's 1948 occupation. At present, only one million of the Negev's 12 million square kilometers of territory lie outside Israeli control.

Local officials in Negev accuse the Israeli authorities of gradually expelling Palestinian residents by carrying out sporadic home demolitions.