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Since construction is not allowed, homes and other buildings are subject to demolition orders. Several villages have been razed by the government many times, including Mr. el-Okbi’s village, Al-Arakib.

In these villages, homes are at best made of cinderblocks and corrugated metal. Many other people live in tents or even-flimsier shelters.

Such structures become stiflingly hot in the summer and are whipped by desert winds in the winter. Floors are dirt or concrete. There are no kindergartens or playgrounds, and few schools. Water is stored in tanks, and power is often provided by generators and candles. Public transport doesn’t reach them.

Bedouin acknowledge that they cannot document their land ownership. They say they did not register their landholdings under Ottoman or British rule for a variety of reasons, including fear of being taxed or being drafted into the Ottoman army.

And Bedouin had their own traditional system of property acquisition.

Traditionally, Bedouin were desert-dwelling nomads descended from Saudi Arabian migrants or Egyptian peasants who raised goats and sheep. But across the Middle East, they have become far more sedentary in recent decades because of urbanization programs and societal shifts.

Their primary alliances are to families and tribes, and most do not share the nationalist goals of the Palestinians and other Arab peoples. A few hundred serve as volunteers in Israel’s army, the military says.

Many say that while they are citizens of Israel, they feel discriminated against and denied the same services Jewish communities enjoy.

The Israeli government says it cannot provide expensive state services to every corner the Bedouin inhabit.

Bedouin and their supporters counter that the state does just that for the Jewish population, including residents of tiny settlements in the West Bank.

Israeli officials also say government efforts to improve life for the Bedouin often have been undermined by sometimes violent tribal infighting over land claims. Some of the villages, they note, stand in areas inappropriate for settling because they are near gas lines, military bases, power plants and toxic landfills.

The government’s response to the Bedouin land claims, approved by the Cabinet last month, would recognize about half of the unrecognized villages and make them eligible for services.

In the next five years, the other unrecognized villages would be demolished and their 30,000 residents forced to move to existing Negev Bedouin towns.

About $330 million would be allocated to compensate relocated Bedouin with alternate land and funds to build homes, and to develop industrial zones, employment centers professional training and other services.

The plan requires approval by the parliament, where it could spend up to a year before being enacted into legislation.