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NCF's Update from the Negev-Naqab




15.8.22

Dear friends and colleagues,

We wish to update you that last Tuesday 9th of August, we met with the Minister of welfare Mr. Meir Cohen, who instructed his office to adopt the project of digital literacy for Bedouin women from unrecognized villages, developed by NCF. 

During the meeting, the Minister expressed great interest in the project and expressed willingness to implement it within by the Ministry of Welfare.
Photo by Meir Cohen's staff members, 9.8.2022, Ministry of Welfare, Jerusalem
The project has been operating as a pilot with NCF for over a year and has identified huge needs for realizing rights in the villages. The project was presented to the minister who turned out to be an enthusiastic supporter and recruited the people of his office to support the programming of the project. Read more here

NCF’s digital literacy project coordinator, Nasrin Abu Kaf presented the project of digital literacy with Bedouin women as well as the challenges we encounter in bringing digital tools to the Bedouin unrecognized villages
International advocacy

On Thursday 6th of August, NCF’s staff members and Bedouin resident and feminist human rights defender and activist Salīmeh al-Ṣaġāyreh from the unrecognized village of Rakhamah, met with Ms. Reem Alsalem (Jordan) Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls to hear the plight of the Bedouin women’s from the Naqab, in terms of education, employment, lack of access to basic services and public transportation. We also informed about the recent detention of Bedouin human rights defender Mariam Abu Kwider and agreed to follow up on the specific aspects of gender equality. 

On Friday, August 5th, the SR on adequate housing Mr. Balakrishnan Rajagopal, organized a Regional Consultation with civil society organizations from Asia, to receive input on climate change.

NCF's Research and International Advocacy Director, Elianne Kremer, participated and presented the topic of climate change and Bedouin women in the Naqab.

The meeting was facilitated by Prof. Adriana Allen, Professor of Development Planning and Urban Sustainability at Development Planning Unit (DPU), University College London.

Freedom of expression
On Thursday 12.5.2022, student and Bedouin human rights defender Maryam Abu Kwider, was arrested by several policemen in civilian clothes. The student of Pharmacy was allegedly arrested for incitement, after a demonstration in memory of journalist Sheerin Abu Aqla, held at Ben Gurion university that day. Maryam had been previously interrogated by the Israeli Security Agency for publishing a series of content on social media allegedly promoting incitement.
In the beginning of July, NCF’s staff members visited the unrecognized village of az-Zarnūg with a delegation from Switzerland and met with human rights activist Amir Abu Kweder and his sister, Maryam Abu Kwider who is currently on home arrest and being charged with incitement. 

Currently, Maryam is under house arrest and prohibited to leave her home, which hinders her ability to continue with her University studies. . The court meanwhile has extended her sentence beside being prevented from using her phone and computer.The legal representation expenses are very high, thus we are making our best efforts to find sources that will support Maryam’s defense. This upcoming Tuesday there is a hearing in the district court open to the public, if you are interested in attending please reach out to NCF’s local advocacy coordinator, Huda at +972 54-338-7208
Reports and publications

NCF has published a report on the January 2022 detentions and arrests and Police Violence. This report is a result of the cooperation NCF did with the Regional Council for Unrecognized Villages, Sidreh Association, and Alhuquq Center. You are welcome to read the report here 

The Right to Freedom of Expression in Academia



3.7.22



Dear friends and colleagues,
 
We wish to update you that as a result of NCF's international advocacy work regarding Police violence during protests in the Naqab in January 2022, the UN Special Rapporteurs on minority issues, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance have sent a communication to the State of Israel, requesting observations regarding the international human rights law, relevant to these allegations. Read here
International advocacy
Together with the OHCHR, we organized a roundtable meeting on shrinking civic space and the role of civil society and the UN human rights mechanisms in Israel. Present were SR and their mandates, Israeli civil society organizations as well as those that represent refugees and asylum seekers in Israel
Digital Literacy for Bedouin women
NCF's participants of the Digital Orientation project went on a tour in Jaffa last week, during which they met and received a lecture by activist Lisa Hanania on her social and political activities, and her experience in the Tel Aviv Jaffa municipal elections. Congratulations to them for their outstanding work.
The Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions published an article about Displacements and demolitions in the Naqab, including contributions provided by NCF's research department. You are welcome to read it here
An agreement recently signed between a well-known Israeli solar energy company, and one of the Bedouin families in the Negev, offers a solution to the problem of land ownership claims in the unrecognized villages. Merom Energy is planning a solar energy project in the Negev on 150 dunams of private land owned by the Anami family. Its purpose is to provide electricity to the area around the city of Beersheba, where many of the Bedouin villages without infrastructure, are located. Read more here
Update on detention of Mariam Abu Kwider
Following up the arrest of Bedouin student and human rights defender Mariam Abu Kwider on Thursday 12.5.2022, we want to update you that Mariam is still detained with home arrest, the Court has been extending her detention since she was charged with incitement. She is not allowed to use her phone and computer. Her detention is hindering her ability to continue with her studies at University. It is important to notice that the Human Rights Defenders Fund will not continue funding her legal representation.

On 12.5.2022 several policemen in civilian clothes arrested the student of Pharmacy, after a demonstration in memory of journalist Sheerin Abu Aqla, held at Ben Gurion University that same day. She has been detained from that day until the hearing that will be held on Thursday 19th of May in the Magistrate’s Court. You are welcome to see here a video of the events filmed by her classmates and attached you will find a communication detailing the development of the events as well as today's Protocol of the Beer Sheva District Court.











17.4.22


Demolition of structures in 2021
Click to access the infographics
NCF in the media: 

A serious security situation? A police unit was shut down because of a pigeons' nest
Click for the English version








15.2.22


Dear friends and colleagues,

Greetings from the Naqab. The beginning of the year has been hectic and with much instability for the Bedouin indigenous residents of the Negev-Naqab. 

On January 11th, 2022, the JNF began planting trees in the surroundings of the Bedouin village of Saʿwah. The afforestation, done partly on lands that the Naqab’s Bedouin citizens have ownership claims, was done without planning approvals, and not as part of the National Outline Plan for Forest and Forestry. The plan is intended for "land conservation" and was determined by a committee of the Israel Land Administration. Furthermore, police checkpoints were set up near the Bedouin villages, preventing residents of the area from accessing crucial services such as schools and health centres.

These large aggressive operations have deepened the crisis of trust between the Bedouins citizens from the Naqab and the state. The JNF and police actions sparked massive confrontations between the Bedouin residents of the area and the Israeli police, in which more than 150 people have been arrested, including 60 minors. So far, 34 of these people were indicted, and several children are still held in custody – and some are interrogated by the Israeli Security Agency (SHABAK).
If you want to learn more, you are welcome to listen to our international advocacy coordinator interviewed by the Israeli Conversation Programmme
Listen here
Media Sources

Saʿwah demonstrations 13,16-01-2022, photo by Waleed Aloubra
Saʿwah demonstrations 13,16-01-2022, photo by Waleed Aloubra
HRDF funded the legal consultation and representation of over fifteen detainees and arrestees, including minors.  

HRDF and the NCF will continue to support Bedouin defenders active in the struggle for land rights and recognition, who face ongoing legal prosecution and harassment.
Digital literacy for Bedouin women
Photo by Hanan Alsanah, 14.2.22 
We have opened a new cycle of digital literacy for Bedouin women’s project, whose participants volunteer to coordinate rights advocacy in the villages of az-Zarnūg, al-Ġarrah, Bīr Haddāj, and Wādi an-Naʿam. After the finalization of the training, the coordinators will be able to aid men and women in their villages, to exercise their rights and help as much as possible in connecting the people of the village to receive services online. We thank NCF’s project coordinator, Nasrin Abu Kaf, for her professional leadership and commitment. 
Local Advocacy
Ambassador of the Palestinian Authority to France Salman Elharfi today visited a number of villages in the Negev. NCF’s Co-Director Hanan Alsanah, met with him at the Al Afinish family and introduced him to the situation in the Negev.

Photo by NCF's staff, 9.2.2022
International Advocacy
NCF’s research and international advocacy coordinator, Elianne Kremer, attended a seminar in Geneva, Switzerland on International Advocacy and international law for NGOs organized by I'lam- the Arab Center for Media Freedom. The seminar focused on the UN Special Procedures available to civil society organizations, UN treaty bodies that review international covenants and history on the creation of the United Nations and its international mechanisms. It  was excellently facilitated by Dr. Ahmad Amara and coordinated by Deema Abo Elassal. Besides visiting the United Nations and the museum of the International Committee of the Red Cross - ICRC, Elianne met with colleagues from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Indigenous Peoples’ Center for Documentation, Research and Information and the International Movement against all kinds of Discrimination and Racism.
Photo by Deema Abo Elassal, 7.2.22, United Nations
Photo by UN Staff during the guided tour in the United Nations building.
Meeting Room of the Human Rights Council. 7.2.2022
Support NCF'S activities and projects
From the Field
Even in the cold winter, houses in the Negev continue to be demolished. On the 2nd of February, seven houses in the village of Al-Buqayʿah north of Arad were demolished. The villagers who were evicted from their lands in the Kornov area in the 1960s and moved to an area where living conditions are particularly difficult, have lived there for decades. Now in a hard and cold winter the houses are being demolished leaving women, children and the elderly homeless.

Photographer: Unknown, 2.2.2022. Al-Buqayʿah 
Photographer: Unknown, 2.2.2022. Al-Buqayʿah
Documentation Project
Photos by NCF's staff members, 3.2.2022
Despite the hardships, the pandemic, and a State that constantly threatens their wellbeing, we continued working with the women from the unrecognized villages. We reinforce our belief that these women are full of strength and power.
Photos by NCF's staff members, 3.2.2022
Al-‘Arāgīb
On January 05th, 2022, the Beer-Sheva district court gave its decision regarding the appeal hearing of a Magistrate's court decision to convict four members of the Abu Madhi’m A-Turi family, from the unrecognized village of Al-‘Arāgīb.
The HRDs were convicted of three charges earlier in 2019: trespass with intent to commit an offense, violation of lawful direction, and unlawful entry to public land. The court partially rejected the appeal, written by HRDF-funded lawyer, Adv. Michal Pomeranz. Concerning the HRDs conviction, the court ruled that the Magistrate’s Court was right in its factual decisions, which were based on the presented evidence. Regarding the verdict, the court partially accepted the HRDs appeal and converted the prison terms into community service terms of the same length. Read more about this decision here. 
This is an outrageous decision, criminalizing Bedouin HRDs for living on their lands. It is a vivid example of the various ways the state uses its power to harass Bedouin lives in the unrecognized villages of the Negev-Naqab: on one hand, the state stalls the lands claims legal procedures for decades; on the other hand, it criminalizes the HRDs working to progress with said claims and protect their lands.
February 2022
15
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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."



25.1.22


Saʿwah demonstrations 13,16-01-2022, photo by Waleed Aloubra 
Dear friends and colleagues,

The Jewish National Fund’s (JNF) afforestation projects in the Naqab are threatening the Bedouins' particular lifestyle and creating fear and insecurity among residents, mainly women and children. The State’s mechanisms regarding the residents' protests have been highly repressive and violent.

The Bedouin indigenous citizens deserve to live in security, with basic infrastructure, schools, and clinics, without home demolitions or State’s operations that threaten their lives and wellbeing.


We appreciate every action you take to promote the Human Rights of the Bedouin indigenous communities in the Naqab.
 
Sincerely,

Hanan Alsanah and Haia Noach
NCF's Executive Directors
Saʿwah demonstrations 13,16-01-2022, photo by Waleed Aloubra

We call on the State to stop the JNF afforestation activities in the surroundings of the unrecognized village of Khirbit al-Watan, located south of the recognized Bedouin village of Saʿwah and on every piece of land that is under dispute.

We are highly concerned regarding the State’s criminalization of the Bedouin citizens, while they attempt to claim their land rights and human rights, and the unacceptable treatment the authorities are taking against this minority, mainly towards women and children.
Protests
Saʿwah demonstrations 13,16-01-2022, photo by Waleed Aloubra
On January 10th, a checkpoint was set up near the Bedouin village of Saʿwah as part of an aggressive police operation that included hundreds of police officers who were preparing for the JNF’s afforestation activities on behalf of the Israel Land Authority (ILA), partly on lands that the Naqab’s Bedouin citizens have ownership claims. The checkpoints were located in the area between Road 31 and Road 25—which prevented and delayed the entry of vehicles to their villages, including school children buses that were attempting to bring children back home.
Saʿwah demonstrations 13-01-2022, photo by Waleed Aloubra
Saʿwah demonstrations 13-01-2022, photo by Waleed Aloubra
On Thursday 13.12.22, the Naqab’s Bedouin residents organized a demonstration against lands uprooting and dispossession, demanding the government to halt the KKL-JNF harmful actions and recognize the Bedouin villages in the Beer Sheva Valley. Within eight minutes since the beginning of the demonstration, the Police dispersed violently the protest, using tear gas drones, shock grenades, police riding horses and rubber bullets. Although the demonstration was stopped, the detentions continued afterwards and in the following days, reaching an approximate number of 150 arrests, as of today, with 60 still in custody. Furthermore, during the protests, 50 minors were violently arrested and 30 indictments were filed as of today.
Police violence during protests against KKL afforestation 13.1.22
Police violence during protests against KKL afforestation 13.1.22
Local Advocacy

We have been working together with other 15 organizations and released a statement against the KKL activities

We signed a letter to the Minister of Economy and Industry, Ms. Orna Barbivai, to adopt right away the plan of the Government Employment Agency and to establish 5 employment offices in the Bedouin communities, and even extend it to a sixth office. The letter was signed by Mayor Rahat, Head of Regional Council Al Qasum and Neve Midbar, and Head of Local Councils of Tel Sheva, Hura and Ararah.
As a result of our local advocacy work, several inquiries have been sent to the Knesset.

MK Ayman Odeh (Joint List) sent a query requesting information about the number of arrested people during the last protests in the Naqab, including minors and women, as well as guidelines and measures taken to disperse the demonstrations and detail regarding the type of tear gas that was sprayed from drones by the police.

MK Sami Abu Shehadeh (Joint List), requested a query about details of the process of recognition of the Naqab’s Bedouin communities, as agreed on the Coalition Agreement signed in June, 2021. 

MK Mossi Raz (Meretz) requested a debate in the Knesset’s Internal Security Committee about Police violence during the latests’ protests in the Naqab
International Advocacy
We organized a briefing with the European Union, to 27 member States as well as Canada, Switzerland, and the US on the topic of Dispossession Through Afforestation: The Impact Of The JNF’s Plantations on the Human Rights of Bedouin Citizens of Israel living in the Naqab/Negev
Support NCF'S activities and projects
Our local advocacy coordinator, Huda, will be participating in a webinar organized by the Arab Center Washington DC, about the latest developments in the Naqab
January 2022
27
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