as-Sirr is an unrecognized village of internally displaced citizens that have been moved to the area by the military in 1954 from their historical land. It is home to about 2,700 people, whose original dwelling place is about 15 km west of their current location, to which some have land claims. Other residents of the village were displaced several times more until, in 1994, they were requested by authorities to vacate the area to make room for the train-track to Naot Hovav. Today, this train-track runs through the village. The village is named after a typical tree from the area. The name of the adjacent industrial area, Sarah Valley, is a Hebrew distortion of the village’s name.
Services and infrastructure
The nearest medical and educational services are located in the township of Šgīb as-Salām, roughly 6 km away. The village is not connected to the electricity grid, despite the fact that above the village there are high-voltage electricity lines. Residents mainly produce electricity from solar panels, which they had to provide themselves and at a high price. The water supply is enabled through five connections to water-nodes. The villagers must connect 1 inch pipes, longest one being nearly 4 km long. Residents buy their water from ‘Mekorot’ and pay up to ILS 13 per cubic meter. In past year (2019), the local committee contacted the regional water supply ‘Mimi Negev’ to buy water from them at a cheaper price, but the Authority for the Development and Settlement of the Bedouin in the Negev (otherwise known as the Bedouin Authority) did not approve the connection -their main goal is to eventually move the people of the village once more. The village crosses a four-lane road (Route 40). The buildings in the village are sheds that are weather-damaged and the lack of roads in the area makes traveling to and from the village most difficult, especially during the rainy season. Most of the villagers earn their living from farming and herding, and others work in Be’er Sheva and the surrounding area.
Home demolitions often occur in the village of as-Sirr, and most of the people are forced to destroy their own home in order to avoid the trauma of confrontation with law enforcement and police forces (including the Yoav Special Unit). The nearby prison, the train-track, the industrial area and the roads reduced the area of the village significantly, dividing it into three narrow strips of length from north to south. Furthermore, the village is located in an area designated by the outline plans to constitute a tourist area. The Bedouin Authority contacted the local committee and offered a detailed plan where they will have to move to a western neighborhood of Šgīb as-Salām, but without consulting the residents at all. This plan does not include solutions for the villagers’ traditional way of live as herders and does not offer solutions for their flock – their main source of livelihood. It is also neglects to mention that Šgīb as-Salām already faces difficulties in supplying homes for its own residents and cannot offer the people of as-Sirr viable housing solutions. Because of these reasons, the local committee of as-Sirr refused the Bedouin Authority’s plan. Following their refusal, the Authority began to approach families individually with various proposals.
*Other forms of writing: Alsirr, A-Sirr, Alsirr, A-serr