International and local activists spent the night waiting for demolition crew to come and destroy a new straw and mud mosque built in an unrecognised village of Wadi el-Naam, Israel.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Interior Ministry officials say the structure, built by an Israeli Bedoiun and other volunteers, is illegal since it was built without permission and in a place not designated for construction.
Bustan, an NGO that works in the Bedouin and Jewish communities of the Negev, called upon activists to sit in in the mosque, in a bid to stop the demolition – and document it, should the structure be torn down.
The NGO's website says:
The first mud and straw-bale built mosque in Israel received demolition orders late last week in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Wadi al Na’‘am, come help stop the demolition!
Volunteers are urgently needed starting this evening (Monday November 17th) to stay in the mosque through Thursday (November 20th) to protest and document any attempt to carry out the demolition.
The site further explains:
There are 80,000 Bedouin Arabs currently living in 45 unrecognized villages in Israel that lack basic infrastructure, health care, electricity, and water access. Local Bedouins as well as Christian, Muslim, and Jewish volunteers from Israel, the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Africa have contributed to building the mosque over the last four months.
Blogger Josh was on site, with a camera in tow, to document what happened. He gives us a detailed first hand account and writes:
on Monday night I went out to the mosque in Wadi Naam and spent the night there with some other international people as a sit-in, in case they came in the morning. We were under strict instructions, both from Mahmoud and Ye’ela, that should they come we were not to chain ourselves to the doors, or lay in front of the bulldozers, or throw rocks, or hit the soldiers back when they hit us. We were simply to photograph and record the demolition, should it occur. Jewish Israelis, on the other hand, could sit in the mosque and refuse to leave, or lay in front of the bulldozers because they would just be arrested and released later that day, but we as foreigners would be deported for interfering with army operations.
Although the demolition team never showed up Josh notes:
This doesn’t mean we won. It means they didn’t want to destroy it in front of everyone, so they’ll probably come back next week and destroy it when no one’s there to document it. It won’t be a story because we’ve played our card and the press showed up, but they’re not going to schlep out there twice.
Another blogger, Jerusalem Gypsy adds:
We Jews have this tremendous yoke to carry. I try to take this “light unto the nations” bit quite seriously. And it depresses me when I read in the papers about the “thanks” certain people are getting for helping our country. For example, most recently I read that the State of Israel is about to raze a mosque that a Beduin IDF reservist built in an unrecognized Beduin village of Wadi el-Naam. It is build out of mud and straw and is an environmentally friendly structure. Could you imagine the outcry if a synagogue was about to be razed? The guy who built it served in the IDF from the age of 18 – 27. Now he says he wouldn't allow his son to serve in the army, and I don't blame him.