“It is in the Negev that the creativity and pioneer vigor of Israel will be tested,” goes the quotation attributed to the state’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.
If anything, it is the creativity and resilience of the southern Naqab (Negev in Hebrew) desert region’s indigenous Bedouin population that’s been put to the test in the decades since Ben-Gurion’s rule.
One such village, al-Araqib, is not formally recognized by the state. It has been demolished 90 times and counting in the past five years.
Its residents resist Israel’s efforts to forcibly transfer them and bury their land under forests planted by the Jewish National Fund.
Once a thriving community of 35 families, al-Araqib has been reduced to five tents inhabited by 20 people.
Israel’s policy towards rural communities in the Naqab is the same as in the occupied West Bank — to push Palestinians off the land on which they depend, and to concentrate them in the smallest areas possible.
Silvia Boarini is a photojournalist based in Bir al-Saba and is currently working on a documentary about Naqab Bedouins.