For the first time since the October 2000 incidents, police used rubber-coated bullets against Israeli citizens. Medics report injuries from rubber-coated bullets. Prof. Raphi Walden, PHR-Israel: "The house demolition policy is detrimental to the inhabitants' fabric of life, health, and physical and mental integrity".
In the early morning hours Of February 16th, massive police forces arrived to the village of Al-Arakib, demolished no less than 16 times over the past year. As the inhabitants marched towards the graveyard, police officers began shooting rubber-coated bullets, paint bullets, and other types of ammunition at them. Five inhabitants were injured by that shooting, including an 11 year-old boy. Two inhabitants were evacuated to the Soroka University Medical Center at Beersheba for further medical treatment. Others refused to be evacuated fearing they would be subsequently arrested.
At a certain point, police forces surrounded the graveyard, blocked its three entrances by erecting dirt barriers while at the same time the Jewish National Fund (JNF) bulldozers approached the eastern entrance. The beleaguered inhabitants were surrounded in the graveyard and were forced to lay on the ground in an attempt to prevent the vehicles from coming into the graveyard. And at this point the bulldozers reversed.
Until now, the State has used violent policies of house demolition, evacuation with excessive violence, and attacks against local inhabitants as well as sympathetic activists supporting the Arab-Bedouin residents of unrecognized villages
. However, this day marks a severe escalation in police brutality.
PHR-Israel views the recent incidents at Al-Arakib with severe concern and denounces police brutality which today crossed the last remaining red line. We hold the police responsible for any injury caused to the inhabitants. Systematic demolition of residences housing citizens represents a racist policy in contravention of basic human rights.
Prof. Raphi Walden, board member, PHR-Israel: "The house demolition policy is a blatant violation of basic human rights, including the right to health. It is detrimental to the inhabitants' fabric of life, health and physical and mental integrity."