The Zionist Colonial Project: Environmental Conservation as a Racist Tool
"Hakma's family also settled in Rahat, but moved back to al-Araqib 12 years ago after hearing that the Israel Land Administration intended to plant a forest there, which would be a de facto revocation of their claims to the land. Indeed, according to the plans the Jewish National Fund is carrying out on behalf of the Land Administration, the village is a "recreational area" designated for "forestation."
But the government's professed plans seem to be more about politics than forestation. In March 2010, Israel's then-agriculture minister told the parliament that the Jewish National Fund was planting forests around al-Araqib "in order to safeguard national lands." In January 2011, the Israel Land Administration's development director said to Israeli news media that the agency "has begun preparing the ground for planting to guard the land." When it first demolished al-Araqib in July 2010, the Israeli government uprooted 850 of the villagers' olive trees, an administration spokeswoman told Human Rights Watch. All the while, Israel could easily plant forests in vast areas of the Negev where Bedouins have no land claims without erasing Bedouin links to their land.
Indeed, the day before the government first demolished al-Araqib, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at the real motive, warning in a government meeting that "if we allow for a region without a Jewish majority" in the Negev, that would pose "a palpable threat" to Israel."