The village of al-Ġarrah is an unrecognized village, located 17 km east of Be’er-Sheva, south of Route 31, with a population of 2,000. al-Ġarrah is an historic village settled before the establishment of the State of Israel. The meaning of the word “Ajar” in Arabic is someone or something whose forehead is dyed white, and the village is so named because it sits on a white hill-top. There are some ancient stone houses (Baika), wells and caves that were used to store crops in the village.
Services and Infrastructure
There is one functioning medical clinic in the village but residents who are not clients of “Meuchedet” HMO, must drive to the township of Ḥūrah in order to receive medical care. There are no schools in the village and pupils must travel to the nearby village of Tla’a Rashid (al-Atrash). High school students travel all the way to Ḥūrah or Gaṣir as-Sirr. There is only one kindergarten in the village that cannot serve all the children of al-Ġarrah, therefore, some of them travel daily to Tla’a Rashid.
The village has a few connection points to the main water pipe, along Route 31, 7 km from the village. The residents have to install the pipes at their own expense in order to gain access to water. Some of the residents transport water via water tanks at very high costs. Transferring water in tanks also lowers the quality of the water. The village is not connected to the national electricity grid, and its residents use solar panels or generators, while some of them have no electricity at all. There are no paved roads in the village and access to and from al-Ġarrah is extremely difficult.
al-Ġarrah is an unrecognized village. According to the Be’er-Sheva Metropolitan Plan, it is located in a “metropolitan leisure / forest and afforestation” zone. Researcher Talma Duchan, who investigated objections to the Plan, recommended recognition of the village in 2010, alongside 13 other unrecognized villages. However, the Prime Minister Office appealed her recommendation and it was eventually denied. House demolitions in the village occur every once in a while, and some of the houses in al-Ġarrah are subject to demolition orders. The residents of the village live on lands to which they claim ownership. They also claim ownership to other lands outside the village. The residents want the State of Israel to recognize their village in its current location and on their own lands.