Friday, 20 September 2019

Darker Story behind Heritage News from Israel

Israeli authorities have announced the results of excavations in advance of development in the southern town of Rahat, located in the northern Negev/Naqab desert between Be’er Sheva and Ashkelon. The investigations revealed the remains of a small farming village rural, and next to it the foundations of a small open-air mosque, provisionally dated to the seventh or eighth century CE. This mosque is significant because it would have served a small settled farming village located far from any major settlements and its construction reflects the processes of cultural and religious change that the country underwent during the transition from the Byzantine to the early Islamic period.The context of these investigations however has not received so much attention, and that is the planned mass relocation of thousands of people by the Israeli state to the Bedouin town. Founded in the early 1970s, Rahat is a central part of Israel’s efforts to settle the nomadic Bedouin in specific communities (Michael Press, 'A Discovery of an Ancient Mosque in Israel Overshadows Planned Mass Evictions', Hyperallergic September 20, 2019). The purpose of these resettlements is to control the nomadic population and control the land they claimed, a recent programme calls for the removal of up to 65,000 people to such new towns.
Currently there are 35 Bedouin villages in the Negev that are not recognized as legal by the state. Tens of thousands of people live in these villages. Thousands of Bedouin homes in the Negev have been demolished over the last five years, with the rate increasing over time. 

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