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NCF's Update from the Negev-Naqab



18.5.17

Multaqa-Mifgash in Danger - Update


Dear partners and supporters,

I am writing to update you about a notice we have received from the Be’er Sheva municipality on Thursday, informing us of their intention to re-examine the allocation of the municipal bomb shelter where Multaqa-Mifgash, our Arab-Jewish cultural center, operates. The cultural center in the Dalet neighborhood has operated since 2006 as a joint Arab-Jewish space, offering a verity of events, gathering, film screenings, shared holiday feasts, and language classes.

In the past 11 years, Multaqa-Mifgash has become a shared space for the different communities living in Be’er Sheva and the Negev as whole, and allowed various exciting encounters between the communities sharing the area.

This is not the first time Multaqa-Mifgash has made headlines. In recent years, the municipality has repeatedly asked us to cancel events and limit our activities. This attempt to limit our events and eventually take away our premises to prevent said events is part of the larger restrictions on freedom of speech, and a testimony to the shrinking of civil spaces.

Be’er Sheva is home to a big community of residents who enjoy and take part in the activities and services Multaqa-Mifgash provides. To the limitations on freedom of speech and cancellation of events, we, Arabs and Jews, answer by continuing to hold shared encounters and gatherings, calling for a just, shared existence for all residents of the Negev.

According to the municipality’s notice, we must answer the arguments in the letter within seven days as part of the review process. We reject these arguments outright and will answer them in detail in the coming days. We intend to continue operating Multaqa-Mifgash in the bomb shelter allocated to us, and will work by all available channels to ensure that.  

Hoping for better days,

Haia Noach
Executive Director, Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality


7.4.17

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu: Stop the Demolition of Umm al-Hiran!

The demolition threat still hovers over the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, despite the fact that the State of Israel has not reached any agreed upon solution for its residents. Please add your name to our new petition, demanding that the Israeli Prime Minister change the master plan for the planned town of Hiran so that the village of Umm al-Hiran will be allowed to remain in its place.

Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Granted Permission to Visit the Negev/Naqab

In his role as a Special Rapporteur, Prof. Anaya filed a request to visit the Negev/Naqab but it was denied by the Israeli government. Last week, Prof. James Anaya, now former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, was finally able to visit the Negev/Naqab. Here he learnt about the ongoing struggle for justice of the Bedouin community. During his visit, Prof. Anaya met with different Bedouin leaders and activists in both recognized and unrecognized Bedouin localities. He visited Laqiya, Hura, Umm al-Hiran and al-Sirah, and was accompanied by Haia Noach, NCF’s Executive Director, throughout the day. The concluding meeting of his visit took place at Ben-Gurion University.

Bedouin Community’s Situation Covered in the US Department of State's Human Rights Report

In its annual Human Rights report the US Department of State published two full pages regarding the Bedouin community in the Negev/Naqab. Following NCF’s reporting to the State Department, large portions of our report were included, allowing for widespread exposure of the difficulties faced by the Bedouin community and the ongoing human rights violations in the Negev/Naqab.
>From the report: “The NCF noted the Negev was sparsely populated, with only 8 percent of the population living on 60 percent of Israel’s land, so there was ample room to establish new communities without razing existing ones”.
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Click here for the full Department of State report
Read an article about the new report in Haaretz

NCF Briefed Diplomats about Planning Inequality in the Negev/Naqab at the Swiss Embassy

In March, NCF joined a Diplomat’s Briefing at the Swiss Ambassador’s Residence with the Adalah Center. During the event, attended by representatives from a variety of embassies, Haia Noach, NCF’s executive director, presented the current situation in the Negev/Naqab and the different upcoming plans for the area. Noach showed the new plans that threaten the existence of dozens of unrecognized Bedouin villaged and explained the house demolition policy, as well as the data that reveals the inequality among Jews and Bedouin in the Negev/Naqab.


15.2.17

New data collected by NCF reveals ongoing discrimination against the Bedouin community

Last month, NCF published Discrimination in Numbers – Collection of Statistical Data, a report that presents the wide gaps between the Bedouin community and the general society, across a variety of fields, including education, employment, socioeconomic indicators, planning and more.
Click here for the full findings

NCF’s Recognized Project has released new videos from the Negev/Naqab

With a growing group of volunteer photographers from the Bedouin unrecognized villages, NCF’s Recognized Project is proud to present the latest videos filmed by its members:
The video was filmed by Sa’id Gabo’ah, a resident of the village of al-For’ah, a village which faces the threat of demolition. While in 2006 the government decided to recognize al-Fur'ah, its planning process was stalled to make way for a phosphate mine (Sdeh Barir). Decisions of Israeli planning committees regarding the national plan for mining and quarrying zones, may sentence the village to demolition without even discussing its existence. Watch and share on Facebook
The video was filmed by Yassin al-Nabari, a resident of the unrecognized village of Tal Arad. Bedouin villages in the Negev/Naqab are not connected to the electricity grid. The video explains how residents produce electricity on their own, and shows how the village ‘disappears in the dark’, due to the lack of electricity.
Watch and share on Facebook
 
Click here for more videos on the NCF website

Israeli Government approves 5-year socio-economic development plan for the Bedouin community

Last Sunday, the Israeli government voted in favour of a 5-year plan to invest NIS 3 billion in the promotion of the Bedouin community. While the plan involves some very positive components, it includes two main problems. First of all, the plan totally disregards the residents of the unrecognized villages (about a third of the Bedouin community), as all budgets are designated to be invested in the recognized towns and villages. Secondly, the plan ties investment in socio-economic matters to the enhancement of “enforcement against illegal construction”, which is already allotted a huge budget. Strengthening this aspect of governing the Bedouin, contributes to pressuring more Bedouin citizens to relocate to the recognized towns and villages. The conditional nature of financial support will deepen the grievances of the Bedouin community, instead of leading to a just and acceptable solution, which could be sought by cooperation between the government and its own citizens.

NCF’s Yuṣawiruna Project Photos Featured on +972 Magazine and Presented in the Lush Summit in London

During the violent house demolitions in the village of Umm al-Hiran on January 18th, one woman from the village took her camera, went up on the roof, and documented the events from her perspective. This woman, who chose to remain anonymous, is a member of our project - Yuṣawiruna - Photographing for Human Rights. The project involves groups of women in various unrecognized villages, documenting their daily lives, including human rights violations. The women study together, learning about human rights and photography.

We invite you to view her photos, and read the short text she wrote about the tumultuous events that took place in Umm al-Hiran >> PHOTOS: This is what it looks like when your village is demolished, +972 Magazine, 23 January 2017

Last week, an exhibition of photos from the Yuṣawiruna project was presented at the Lush Summit in London. The exhibition which focuses on the lack of services and infrastructure in the unrecognized Bedouin villages, included photos by dozens of members of the project: women from a variety of villages.

Click here for photos from the event

Shin Bet “kidnaps” Bedouin activists from the street, preventing them from participating in the funeral of Ya’aqub Abu al-Qian

On the morning of the January 24th, three private cars blocked the vehicle of three know Bedouin activists from the Negev/Naqab, in the middle of Be’er Sheva, near Ben Gurion University. The activists were detained and taken to an empty parking lot in the outskirts of the city, and later moved to a Shin Bet facility, near the Shoket intersection. The three were interrogated by Shin Bet agents on a variety of matters, none of which would justify such an unconstitutional arrest. At the time of the arrest, the funeral of Ya’aqub Abu al-Qian, the resident of Umm al-Hiran who was killed by police during the demolition on January 18th, was being held. This is the only possible indication for why the arrest may have taken place: to deny these activists access to grieve with their community.

This arrest is only one in an ongoing list of arrests and interrogations of human rights and political activists in the Negev/Naqab. The fact that Shin Bet followed these individuals and made an arrest in the middle of the street, along with the fact that ongoing attempts to find out where they were taken failed, are a serious cause for concern and an indication of the deterioration of democratic ideals. As soon as the funeral was over, the activists were released, proving that there was no valid ground on which to base the arrests.


21.1.17


NCF's Update from Umm al-Hiran


Yesterday morning, hundreds of policemen arrived at the village of Umm al-Hiran before dawn, in order to demolish six structures, after attempts to reach an agreement shattered over the night. Police stormed into the village, and policemen ran directly to besiege the six condemned structures and climbed onto their roofs with weapons drawn. At that time, Ya’akub Abu Alqian, whose houses were supposed to be demolished, took his personal belongings, important documents, and some money, and entered his car. According to videos released from these moments, policemen started shooting live ammunition at him while he was driving slowly near his home, and eyewitnesses said that he was dead or at least lost control over his car before it rolled down the hill and hit a policeman, killing him on the spot. Abu Alqian’s car was shot with many bullets.



Israeli Police did not wait for a proper investigation and early in the morning released dozens of statements to the press stating that it was “a terror attack against policemen”, that Abu Alqian “was a terrorist affiliated with the Islamic Movement”, and even that “he might have had connections to ISIS that the Shin Bet is now looking into”. Israeli media quickly published all these headlines without checking what happened on the ground, and the Israeli public woke up to this news, about a Bedouin “terrorist” who killed a policeman during a house demolition operation in the village of Umm al-Hiran.

Abu Alqian was 47, a teacher in mathematics and sciences at the as-Salam school in Hura, and in his spare time tended to his sheep in the village. The day before the incident, Abu Alqian visited his mother’s home in Hura. He was sitting with his brother Ahmad and his mother Sarah, telling them that if police would come to demolish his house, he would get into the car and come to his mother’s home.

Videos and eyewitnesses’ testimonies released later that day exposed that earlier police statements had no grounds, including an aerial video by police showing that Abu Alqian was shot before the incident. Yet, the Israeli public already learned from the media and from inciting statements by government ministers and police officials that it was “a terror attack”, and any new findings did not receive as much exposure.



After the incident, police stayed in the village and within a couple of hours started demolishing the structures, including Abu Alqian’s home and animal pen, confiscating his entire herd of sheep. This is the second demolition in Umm al-Hiran within a couple of months, after the Bedouin Authority and the police managed to compel another resident to destroy his entire compound of about 10 structures on his own and move to Hura.

The village of Umm al-Hiran is being demolished in order to clear the way for the new Jewish town of Hiran to be built on its lands. Its residents were relocated from their ancestral lands and were ordered by the military regime to build their village in its current location in the 1950s. After years of litigation in attempts to save their village, the Israeli High Court ruled that the village could be destroyed. Months of negotiations with state authorities aiming to reach an agreed solution ended yesterday with the horrible death of two men, and the demolition of six structures, leaving dozens of people homeless.

The Negev Coexistence Forum calls on the government to stop the incitement against the Bedouin community, and to establish an independent investigation committee for yesterday’s events. NCF will keep supporting the family and the village in their ongoing struggle for justice.


Read online on NCF's website

Visit NCF's villages project website and start to read and watch photos and videos from the Bedouin villages in the Negev-Naqab at: dukium.org/maps
Check out NCF's record of house demolitions in the Negev-Naqab