Share |

Negev Bedouin struggle for water, land

Negev Bedouin
Physicians for Human Rights — Israel

On Feb. 20, the Israeli Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by residents of the "unrecognized" Bedouin village of Umm El-Hiran in the Negev demanding access to drinking water. The Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel filed the appeal on behalf of the village's 500 residents. Umm El-Hiran was established in 1956 by Bedouin forcibly relocated by the Israeli military. Today its available drinking water is from a tank provided by the Israeli Water Authority, located eight kilometers from the village. The only other drinking water is from a private family four kilometers away, who charge a higher price than the Water Authority. Meanwhile, the nearby Jewish community of Amos, which consists of only one family, is on the water grid with indoor plumbing—a disparity typical of the Negev.

The high court's February decision ended an eight-year legal struggle. There are 34 "unrecognized" Bedouin villages in the Negev, unconnected to the water grid. Many of these "unrecognized" villages are on lands slated for new Jewish towns, industrial zones, or forestation projects. (+972, March 1)

The Israeli government's recently approved plan to transfer ownership of some Negev tracts to Bedouin communities is being protested as including areas previously slated for army bases, national infrastructure installations and roads. Of the 222,000 dunams (54,000 acres) included in the plan, half is unavailable, Maariv newspaper reported. The land restitution plan, proposed by outgoing minister Benny Begin, was hastily approved at a cabinet meeting less than two weeks ago. The Prime Minister's office insisted in a statement that the plan is still workable. (Times of Israel, Feb. 7)

Google Video