“Why is Israel destroying Negev villages?”

Six children sit amid the leafless branches of a tree in an arid, barren landscape, a small weary-looking shed in the distance. The image, a photograph by Mohamed Badarne, is part of “Unrecognized Games,” a series featuring children from the 45 unrecognized villages in Israel’s Negev Desert, where more than 75,000 Bedouin live. Badarne told Al-Monitor that he wants to pose one key question through his work on the Bedouin: “Why is Israel destroying Negev villages?” Answering his own question, he replied, “Israel wants to eliminate the Palestinian presence from the pre-1948 territories.”

Life in the Negev, given the absence of public services and the state’s destruction of personal property, is insecure and tough, but the children Badarne has photographed have nonetheless managed to turn their surroundings into a playground: They climb trees; they play with the remains of broken or discarded objects; they run around on the sandy stretches of land and amuse themselves in front of a broken television set. “Children make toys out of nothing. They create their own heaven among the rubble,” Badarne remarked. “I watched children playing atop power generators, knowing that they have no electricity to begin with.”
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