BEERSHEBA (Ma'an) -- Bulldozers and tractors sent by the Israel Land Authority on Wednesday morning destroyed fields of wheat, barley and other cereal grains planted by Palestinian Bedouins in the Negev.
Residents told a Ma'an reporter in the southern Israeli region that tractors plowed and destroyed crops that had been planted on lands belonging to the Huzayyil tribe, before moving to the area of the nearby Awajan Bedouin village.
Israeli authorities said that Negev Bedouins have taken control of state lands which they could have instead leased on a yearly basis at cheap rates.
The Bedouins said they refused to sign any lease because if they do it would constitute approving Israeli claims that their private lands are state properties.
The Bedouin Negev-based Al-Naqab Association for Land and Human Beings denounced the Israeli assault on vast areas of lands, calling them an "attempt to make the lives of the people of the Negev people very difficult and force them to evacuate their land to be confiscated for Jewish settlements, farms and military bases."
Bedouins in Israel were under military rule until 1966, and tens of thousands were forcibly expelled from their lands and deported in the nearly two decades prior.
Because Bedouins generally lack titles to the lands their ancestors have historically grazed and lived on, it is difficult for them to prove their right to live there.
Israel refuses to recognize 35 Bedouin villages in the Negev, which collectively house nearly 90,000 people, out of a total of around 200,000 Bedouins.
The Israeli state denies them access to basic services and infrastructure, such as electricity and running water, and refuses to place them under municipal jurisdiction.