Israel to release Al-Araqeeb head if accepted forcible deportation

May 16,2019

The 71-year-old man preferred to stay in prison rather than be released and relocated.

Israeli Prison Service (IPS) told Sheikh Sayyah al-Turi, head of Al-Araqeeb Village, he would be released if accepted to be deported.

However, Al-Turi rejected this condition and said he would not leave prison unless if he returned to the Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb.

Al-Turi is being held in the Ramla Prison, its administration had said that the decision to release Al-Turi is contingent on his consent to change his residence from the village of Al-Araqeeb to the city of Rahat in neighbourhood Number 25 at the request of the Israeli police.

The conditions also stipulated that Al-Turi be prevented from changing his home address without the approval of the responsible Israeli police unit, and that he must attend the police station 48 hours after his release and every fortnight indefinitely.

“I know that everyone is waiting for Sheikh Sayah al-Turi’s release tomorrow, and I know how much everyone is prepared to welcome him. Unfortunately, the prison administration insisted on setting restricting conditions that he did not and will not accept,” lawyer Shahda Ben Bari said.

Ben Bari is in charge of defending the residents of the unrecognised village of Al-Araqeeb in Al-Naqab. He added: “I know the extent to which the principled positions of the Sheikh are firm.

“I am pretty sure he will not accept freedom if humiliated. He is ready to assume the consequences of his steadfastness at any cost.”

On Tuesday morning, Israeli bulldozers demolished Al-Araqeeb and displaced its residents for the 144th time.

Seventy-year-old Al-Turi was handed a ten-month jail term and fined $10,300 in December after he was found guilty in 39 cases filed in November 2013 including trespassing on state property, in reference to land which belongs to his village.

Al-Araqeeb is one of 51 Arab villages in Al-Naqab the Israeli occupation authorities do not recognise and has been targeted for demolition ahead of building homes for new Jewish communities.

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