Dear diplomats, friends & partners,
For many of us civil society actors and human rights activists, the month of July ended with a bitter aftertaste and a sense of exhaustion. Indeed, the Israeli government has been relentless in its efforts to target and threaten everything related to human rights. The Negev has not been spared, and we are focusing all our efforts on advocating for the Bedouin community in every way possible.
Here are some of the things we have done in the last month:
NCF joined in a petition of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel to the High Court against critical judicial coup law
NCF joined with 37 human rights organizations in a petition of the Association for Civil Rights to the High Court against the law recently passed in the Knesset that would remove the Supreme Court’s power to overturn government decisions it deems unreasonable.
The petition points out the harm that will be caused to people living in poverty, to all members of Arab society, the LGBTQ community, the Bedouin in the Negev, women, Ethiopians, Mizrahim, Palestinians in the occupied territories and East Jerusalem, migrant workers and asylum seekers and many others.
We are proud to be in the forefront of efforts to ensure that Israel will not become a dictatorship and to realize our dream of living in a truly democratic society with equal rights for ALL citizens.
Yom ha-Negev (Negev Day) at the Knesset
NCF’s local Advocacy Coordinator, Huda Abu Obaid, took part in several discussions at the Knesset last few months, always with the objective of advocating for the Bedouin minority.
Appearing before the Committee for Public Inquiries, she related to the lack of Internet access in the unrecognized villages, and told about NCF’s digital literacy project, which aims at increasing the digital connectivity of Bedouin women from unrecognized villages—as a means of improving their access to social services and facilitating the practice of their civil rights.
On July 11, the Knesset held the Negev Day to discuss economic development in the region and the problems facing Bedouin society. Several representatives of civil society organizations and members of the Bedouin community were present, including the NCF. It was a much too rare but essential opportunity to draw attention to the many barriers and deficiencies that separate Bedouins from other Israeli citizens. Among the discussions that took place, we particularly participated in the discussions on children’s rights, education, unrecognized villages, various social policies, transportation infrastructure, and Minister Chikli’s new development plan during the Interior Committee discussion. During the discussion on children’s rights, we especially highlighted the drastic lack of kindergartens in the Negev, notably salient – but not only – in the unrecognized villages, and how it affects both children and women. The head of the special committee concluded that this issue goes against Israeli law and asked representatives of the Ministry of Education for answers. NCF will be following the outcome of this discussion closely.
Advocating for Human Rights at the British Embassy
Our Local and International Advocacy Coordinators had a meeting at the British Embassy, where they met with the embassy’s Political Advisor and with their Head of Domestic Politics. They discussed NCF’s work and projects and explained how each successive government has targeted the Bedouin community in the Negev-Naqab, and how the current political situation and Chikli’s construction plan are more disturbing than all that has happened in the past.
NCF considers foreign states as essential partners in promoting and protecting human rights and democracy. Therefore, we will continue our efforts to meet with diplomats, inform them about the situation in the Negev-Naqab, and advocate for Bedouin rights and civil equality for all.
Beer Sheva Court ruled to evacuate the Village of Rās Jarābā forcefully
The Magistrate’s Court in Be’er Sheva ruled that the village of Rās Jarābā will be evacuated in order to expand the city of Dimona eastwards. The judge explained that the need to evacuate the residents of the village, on whose land the city of Dimona was founded, is the continuation of the expansion of the city.
The ruling stated that the 550 residents of the village who have resided in Rās Jarābā since before the establishment of the state must evacuate and demolish their homes themselves by March 2024. The residents’ requests to integrate into the urban space were rejected, and the authorities have agreed to discuss with them only residential solutions in settlements designated for Bedouins by the State. The court also imposed on the defendants attorney’s fees in the amount of NIS 117,000.
The village has strong ties to Dimona as many residents are employed there and receive most of their services there. The residents have expressed their desire to be integrated into the city expansion, either as an independent village or as a neighborhood with an appropriate lifestyle. However, when the proposed alternatives were presented to the Israeli Land Authority, The Authority for Development and Settlement of the Bedouin in the Negev refused to discuss them, claiming that they were not authorized to discuss solutions outside the Israeli-built Bedouin townships. The Bedouin Authority only offered the residents housing solutions in the village of Qasr al-Sar, while the defendants made it clear that they are not willing to move there as that land belongs to other Bedouin families.
The verdict also rejected all the defendants’ claims against the evacuation decision itself. The Adalah Center, which represents the residents, announced that it would file an appeal on the residents behalf with the district court.
For further details: Adalah – the legal center for the rights of the Arab minority in Israel / firstname.lastname@example.org / 054-3077311
Workshops in the field
Our field coordinators were very busy last month. Despite the heat, they conducted several workshops in unrecognized villages, mostly with children. Long summer workshops took place in as-Sirrah, ʿAtīr, Umm al-Ḥīrān, and Bīr Haddāj. The children were very invested, as some of the photos they shot will be published in next year’s calendar, which will be out soon. This task gave them extra motivation: The children are excited to participate in this project and look forward to seeing their pictures printed in the calendar.
Our coordinators also taught the children how to make key holders using an ancestral Bedouin technique. They were happy to take part in an activity that connected them to their cultural heritage.
In accordance with the law, the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality is proud to note that as a result of cooperation with friendly countries and international organizations that promote human rights, most of the funding for our activities comes from “foreign entities.”