FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Anna Rose Siegel
International Advocacy Coordinator
The Negev Coexistence Forum
Tel: +972 54 205 6821
Email: [email protected]
Today, Thursday 21st, March 2013, the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality (NCF) published a report, which presents an updated picture of the gap between the state services that are allocated to Jewish verses Bedouin Arab settlements in the Negev.
Every year, NCF publishes a report, comparing the quality and quantity of state services provided to Jewish versus Arab communities in the Negev. The State’s ongoing efforts to concentrate the Bedouin Arab citizens within designated urban communities have resulted in a notable degree of overcrowding and unemployment and a lack of comprehensive dispersal of public services in these Bedouin towns. These issues are far more significant in the Bedouin communities than in the Jewish ones in the region.
The report demonstrates that the population density of the Bedouin towns ranges from a ratio of about one thousand people per square kilometer to up to 2,700 people per square kilometer. Meanwhile, in Jewish towns, the ratio does not exceed 400 inhabitants per square kilometer. For example, in the Bedouin town of Rahat, about 55 thousand inhabitants hold jurisdiction over a total of 19 thousand hectares (190 km2); this is a ratio of about 290 people to one square kilometer. However, in the town of Dimona, about 40 thousand inhabitants hold jurisdiction over 172 thousand hectares (1,720 km2); this is a ratio of about 23 people to one square kilometer.
The report further reveals that the unemployment rate in the Bedouin townships is substantially higher than the average in southern Israel. This is, at least in part, due to the fact that there are no employment bureaus in most of Bedouin towns. Also, when comparing the number of consulting hours at Social Security Offices in Jewish towns versus in Bedouin towns of the Negev, NCF finds that there are many more consulting hours per capita in the Jewish towns. For example, in the Jewish town of Yeruham, the Social Security Office is open for an hour of consultation for every 538 inhabitants. Simultaneously, in Rahat, the Social Security Office is open for an hour of consultation for every 4,575 inhabitants.
Furthermore, the report demonstrates that with regards to public services—banking, postal, transport and communications, there is a big deficit in service accessibility in Arab towns compared to that in Jewish towns. For example, the Jewish town of Omer has a full mail service, bank, and phone service infrastructure for it 7,000 inhabitants. Conversely, the nearby Bedouin town of Tel Sheva has only partial postal and telephone services and only one bank branch for its 16,000 inhabitants. Additionally, the number of buses that traverse at rush hour in Omer is three time higher than in Tel Sheva.
This report presents a very disturbing picture: while the State continues to concentrate the Bedouin Arabs into denser and denser urban centers, there is pervasive institutional discrimination against ethnic Bedouin Arab citizens of Israel. Discrimination is reflected in the disparity between the state services and resources received by Jewish inhabitants of the Negev and those received by Bedouin Arab inhabitants. This situation perpetuates and preserves the social and economic degradation of Bedouin Arabs in the Negev and prevents their integration into broader society.