Forced Displacement: The Story of Al-Araqib

The Palestinian Bedouin village of al-Araqib was destroyed again, for the 86th time, on the 2nd of July 2015.  As in previous demolitions, Volvo Group provided its wheel loaders to carry out the house demolitions and raze them to the grounds. In Al-Naqab (Negev) desert the threat of house demolitions and land grab hovers over 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins citizens who live in 35 “unrecognized” impoverished villages.

Al-Araqib: Demolished for the 86th time

The Palestinian Bedouin village of al-Araqib located in the Naqab desert in southern Israel was destroyed again, for the 86th time, on the 2nd of July 2015. Like in previous demolitions, Volvo provided its bulldozers to carry out the house demolitions and raze them to the grounds.

Forced Displacement in Al-Araqib

Al-Araqib is an "unrecognized" Palestinian Bedouin village within the Green Line located in the Naqab desert south of Israel. As of July 2015, Israel has destroyed the village 86 times to make way for two Jewish National Fund (JNF) forests. The Bedouin residents of Al-Araqib and Al Naqab more generally, have been living in their lands for more than two centuries. Today, although citizens of Israel, the Bedouins as Palestinians, remain part of the indigenous Palestinian people of their ancestral lands.

According to Adalah's publications, July 27, 2010 was the day that marked the first demolition of Al Araqib. On that date, an estimated 1,500 Israeli armed police officers, supported by bulldozers and helicopters, besieged the village. Within three hours, the Israeli Land Authority (ILA) demolished the entire village to the ground, destorying 30 homes, uprooting 1,000 trees and displacing its 300 residents, including men women and children. The villagers were left homeless and with no livelihood sources, which in turn lead to their forcible displacement to the nearby urban government-planned township of Rahat. [1] Ever since, a few remaining families stayed and continued to rebuild their homes repeatedly despite the government's continued and relentless efforts to destroy their homes and landgrab their village. 

The Volvo Group: Constructing Israeli settlements, demolishing Palestinian homes 

Volvo's involvement in demolishing Al-Araqib has been documented in both the latest demolition on the 2nd of July 2015 and in previous demolitions. The company's wheel loaders have been repeatedly used to carry out the destruction plan and by doing so, it has aided and abetted the forcible eviction of the Bedouin community from their lands.

This Swedish-based multinational public company has also been providing its heavy machinery for the demolition of Palestinian houses in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and within the Green Line. For example, the Volvo wheel loaders were used to demolish houses in the Palestinian village of Umm al-Khayr in the South Hebron Hills area, the Palestinian neighborhoods of Tzur Baher, Silwan, Wadi Qaddum, Sheikh Jarrah, Beit Hanina and Issawiya in East Jerusalem and in the Palestinian city of Led (Lod) within the Green Line.

While engaging in house demolitions, the same company has also been providing its machinery to facilitate the construction of the illegal Israeli settlements. The company's equipment was used for the construction of the Har Gilo settlement and the Barkan Industrial Zone. In addition, Volvo trucks were used for the construction of the Huwwara checkpoint, Route 443 (a West Bank road for Israelis only) and the Separation Wall near the Palestinian village of Al-Walaja.

On a recent tour taken by Whoprofits on March 2015, the company's bulldozers and excavators were seen in the construction sites of Modi'in Illit and Leshem, both of which are Israeli settlements in the West Bank. These construction sites are part of the expansionist construction projects that take place in existing settlements to tighten the Israeli grip over the surrounding Palestinian lands and resources. In another tour, conducted in June 2015, Volvo's garages were spotted in Mishor Adumim, a settlement in the West Bank.

To add to the above, the company has also been involved in providing services to the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Through its subsidiary, Volvo Buses (which owns 26.5% of Merkavim), Volvo supplies armored buses for Egged lines in the occupied Palestinian territories. Volvo Group buses are also used by the Central Company for the Development of Samaria and the Company for the Development of the Binyamin Council in the West Bank, for transportation services to the settlements. Two additional Volvo certified garages operate in the occupied Palestinian territories, in the industrial zones of Mishor Adumim and Atarot. Volvo Group has also supplied its maintenance trucks to the Jerusalem Light Rail project, which connects settlements in the Jerusalem area with the city center.

Lastly, and in response to a freedom of information request submitted by Who Profits, the Israel Prison Service has confirmed that the Volvo Group and its subsidiary Merkavim provide services to the Israel Prison Service, including buses for transportation of political prisoners.

Al-Naqab: House demolitions as a mechanism of forced displacement 

In recent years, the Israeli government has focused on the Naqab in general as the next location for its settlement project. In June 2013, the Israeli Knesset approved the Prawer-Begin Plan for the removal of the Palestinian Bedouin community from its ancestral land. If implemented, this plan will result in the destruction of 35 "unrecognized" Bedouin villages, the forced displacement of up to 70,000 people and the appropriation of their land. Following a determined struggle by the Palestinian-Bedouin community and local activists, the plan was ostensibly halted on December 2013. However, on the ground, the demolitions continue and are used to force the Palestinian-Bedouin community to negotiate their ownership claims to the land. [2] The unrecognized village of Al-Araqib became a symbol of resistance to the displacement plan, as its residents continue to hang on to their land after enduring 86 demolitions executed by Israeli authorities with direct corporate suuport. [3] In 2014 alone, house demolitions were carried out in over 30 villages, including Al-Araqib, Umm Batin, Al Zarura, Wadi al-Na'am, and many more.

In that regard, house demolitions have been a prevalent method of forced displacement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well. From 1967 until today, Israel has demolished more than 28,000 Palestinian houses, public buildings and private commercial properties in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. This massive, man-made destruction is not a side effect of the occupation but a fundamental element in the control mechanism, designed to tighten the Israeli hold on East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The primary motivation behind the demolitions is political, as they enable the clearing of land from its inhabitants, forcing the Palestinians into narrow, overpopulated, poverty-stricken and isolated segments. Demolitions, planned or impulsive, also serve as a mean to terrorize the Palestinian population and deter it from resisting the Israeli control over the Occupied Palestinian Territory.




[2] Adalah, "Demolition and Eviction of Bedouin Citizens of Israel in the Naqab (Negev) - The Prawer Plan".

[3] Yanir Yanga, "In the Past Year: House Demolitions in Bedouin Villages Have Been Doubled" [In Hebrew], Walla News, 17 March 2014.