6 February 2003
5 February 2003
The Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages of the Palestinian Bedouin in the Negev-Israel  condemns the demolition of a mosque in the unrecognized village of Tel Al-Mileh, and views this operation as the beginning of the implementation of Sharon’s new 5-year plan for the Negev.
Officials from the Israeli Interior Ministry, guarded by a large force from the police and special units, destroyed a mosque today in the unrecognized village of Tel Al-Mileh. The demolition was carried out in the early hours of Wednesday morning on the grounds that the mosque was an unlicensed building.
The demolition was perpetrated at 6 am, following the departure of most of the men of the village for work, thus allowing the authorities to intimidate children, women and elderly people who were unable to resist the armed force accompanying the bulldozers of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government.
Later in the day, Khalil Abu Musa’id, a young man returning to help save the mosque, collapsed upon seeing the scene of destruction left by the authorities. He was transferred by ambulance to Soroka hospital in Beer Sheva. His situation is still unclear.
At a time when the Regional Council has been calling on all the political parties, NGOs, the Higher Follow Up Committee for Arab Affairs and other bodies working for human rights to form a coalition to confront Sharon’s new 5-year plan to Judaize the Negev, the Regional Council once again urgently calls on them to confront the severity of Sharon’s plan to put an end to the unrecognized villages of the Negev in order to expropriate Bedouins’ lands.
The head of the local council of Tel Al-Mileh, Ibrahim Abu Musa’id, emphasized the injustice of destroying a place of worship that had been built through the joint initiative of the Negev Institute for Land and People and the residents of the village, since there was no place of worship in the village. Abu Musa’id added: “This act is inhumane and contradicts all religious principles and understandings which sanctify and preserve places of worship. The mosque destroyed today was a house of all Muslims and for all those for those who believe in human tolerance. What happened today is a crime against our rights as Muslims and against the rights and humanity of all.”
Jabber Abu Kaff, president of the Regional Council, added that: “The State of Israel today perpetrated an act of enmity against a mosque considered holy by Muslims. This act runs contrary to all international treaties which uphold the right to freedom of religion. It runs contrary to all the feelings of religions and Muslims, and disregards the fact that this mosque is a holy place of worship. The demolition inflamed the feelings of our people because it is the first time that the State has demolished a mosque in the Negev. Since its establishment, the State has continued to demolish private homes under the pretext that they are unlicensed buildings, and despite the fact that it is impossible for them to get a building permit. This we have endured; but the demolition of houses of God is a dangerous precedent, and the state must check itself before continuing down this path, which violates the dignity of Muslims, humanity and religions.”
 45 Unrecognized Villages with 70,000 inhabitants. The Israeli Government does not recognize these villages legally or administratively, perferring to view them as “scattered settlements” or “populations.”