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NCF's Update from the Negev-Naqab




4.10.21

Dear friends, colleagues and supporters:

NCF’s annual calendar is available for purchase here. It includes photographs taken by children from the unrecognized Bedouin villages of Umm al-Ḥīrān, Rakhamah, az-Zaʿarūrah, Ṣwāwīn, Bīr Haddāj, az-Zarnūg, ʿAtīr, Tal ʿArād, and Khašim Zannih. We congratulate our field and photography coordinators, for leading such incredible workshops with the children.

We congratulate and bless all the residents of the Negev/Naqab, with a year of justice, welfare, and equal rights for all. 


Unfortunately, the new Jewish year started out sadly with the passing of former MK Saeed Alkharumi, a Bedouin activist committed to advancing the rights of his community. A humble man who struggled for the recognition of the Bedouin communities, constantly gathering the residents' plight and needs, until his very last days. We would like to express our thanks to Saeed for all his doing, and send our deepest condolences to his family. We believe that his actions as a Bedouin community member and politician will inspire the youngest members of the community to continue his path for equality.


International advocacy
As part of our work to raise international awareness on Human Rights issues in the Naqab, we held three tours with diplomats and international organizations in the Naqab during August and September.

Abu Tlūl aš-Šahbī, 9.9.21 by Elianne Kremer

The unrecognized village of Az-Zarnūg, 9.9.21, visiting a location where demolitions took place, by Elianne Kremer

In August, we toured with diplomats from Switzerland, and in September we held a tour with colleagues from Germany, the United States, and France and visited the unrecognized village of Khašim Zannih, the unrecognized village of az-Zarnūg, and the recognized village of Abu Tlūl aš-Šahbī.

The Unrecognized village of al-Furʿah, 29.9.21, by Odeliya Mattar

By the end of September, we organized together with Adalah and the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, a joint tour for new incoming diplomats and international organizations in the villages of Abu Tlūl aš-Šahbī, az-Zarnūg and al-Furʿah. 

During the tours, participants spoke with the Bedouin residents who shared their needs for housing security, their fear of the constant demolitions, frequent intimidating police visits and the State’s “development” plans that disregard the wellbeing of the residents in their villages.


Local advocacy

As part of our advocacy efforts to achieve better education conditions for Bedouin children, we sent a letter to the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Communications, and the Knesset, together with RCUV, the Israel Internet Association and the Clinical Legal Education Centre from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, requesting to address the urgent need to find solutions for Internet access for students in Israel as part of an inseparable part of their right to education. To read the full letter in Hebrew please click here


The court hearing of the petition to reopen the investigation of Ya’akob Abu-Al-Qi'an’s death during the demolition of the unrecognized village of Umm al-Ḥīrān in 18/1/2017

High Court of Justice, 9.9.21, by Odeliya Matter
On Thursday 9.9.21, the High Court of Justice heard a petition by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and NGO Adalah to reopen the prosecution’s probe into the handling of the death of Abu-Al-Qi'an. The petitioners claim that there is a basis to reopen the case and reach different conclusions. The court has not yet issued a ruling.

Women’s and children’s photography workshops
On the right: picture was taken in az-Zaʿarūrah, 31.8.21, anonymous
On the left: picture was taken in Bir Hadaj, 17.8, anonymous

19.8.21

Updates from the Naqab

We are delighted to welcome Hanan Alsanah to our team as our new Co-CEO!

Hanan has a rich and diverse experience in defending the socio-economic rights of the Bedouin communities in the Negev-Naqab, as well as advocating specifically for the rights of women. She will be joining Haia in leading us to a just and equal society.


New position paper:

Indigenous Bedouin citizens neglected by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS)


For years, the CBS has refrained from a comprehensive census of the Bedouin community and instead favors estimates based on various discriminatory assumptions and formulas. As a result of this statistical disparity, there are between 90,000 and 100,000 residents living in unrecognized villages in the Negev who lack a geographical designation on their ID cards, meaning that they are not defined in the population registry as residents of a locality, but rather as members of a tribe.

Implications are that citizens cannot access convenient voting locations and health, education and employment services. The CBS must conduct a comprehensive survey of the residents of the unrecognized villages, and present decision makers with complete information.

On occasion of the World’s indigenous Day, NCF released a position paper on the statistical gap of the Bedouin population from the Naqab. You are welcome to continue reading it here 

NCF's publication coincides with the recently released State's Comptroller's report, that indicates major disparities in the data on the number of Bedouins living in the Naqab, which include the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority, the Authority for the Development and Settlement of the Bedouin in the Negev and other government ministries.


Demolitions in the Naqab and local lobby

In light of the ongoing demolitions in the Bedouin communities in the Negev-Naqab, and the distress exacerbated as a result of the pandemic, we issued a letter together with Sidreh Association and the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, requesting the Interior Minister Mr. Omer Bar-Lev, to stop police accompaniment to house demolitions, until the government presents housing solutions. In 2020, 2,568 buildings were demolished in Bedouin communities in the Negev, causing economic and psychological damage to families whose 80% of their children live below the poverty line.

The intention is to start a process that will help build trust towards dialogue with each of the villages on fair and participatory planning solutions, and build a political dialogue on housing solutions for Arabs at the national level.


Launching of al-ʿArāgīb’s Art Center
On July 24, the residents and human rights defenders from the unrecognized Bedouin village of al-ʿArāgīb, together with artists and partners, organized and produced the launch of al-ʿArāgīb’s Art Center for the preservation of the unrecognized Bedouin village, its culture and history.

Since 2010 the village has been demolished 191 times. We were happy to see that the attendance was high, hundreds of people: women, children and men came to support the Bedouin struggle, thus strengthening the right of the indigenous minority to their lands and right to adequate housing, that every citizen enjoys.

Pictures were taken by Elianne Kremer

Employment of Bedouin women

In light of the fact that there is only one employment bureau in all the Arab Bedouin localities in the Negev-Naqab, compared to Jewish localities (such as Yeruham and Mitzpe Ramon), we turned to MK Aida Toma-Suleiman following our joint activity in the employment of Arab women in the Negev, and the letter to the Minister of Economy, Orna Barbibai, to assist in the creation of employment offices in the Bedouin villages in the Negev-Naqab.



11.7.21

New Government, new opportunities?

Dear friends and supporters,

 With the emerging Israeli coalition government, which was sworn on June 13th, the United Arab List headed by Mansour Abbas negotiated among other things, to address the plight of the unrecognized Bedouin communities, in terms of infrastructure, access to basic services and housing solutions. By doing so, the coalition agreement includes the recognition of the unrecognized Bedouin villages of Khašim Zannih, Rakhamah and ʿAbdih in the first 45 days of its term; as well as the presentation of a plan that will propose housing solutions for the Bedouin citizens living in unrecognized villages in the Negev, in the first nine months.

We expect the new government to bring about a democratic solution for the recognition process of the 35 unrecognized villages, quickly providing building permits and proper infrastructure, as well as housing solutions for the Bedouin residents. The Naqab's Bedouin citizens deserve to live a dignified life on their historical lands, like the rest of the citizens.

The new government must eradicate the policy of eviction towards its Arab citizens, end police violence and provide an adequate housing plan that is participatory and sensitive of the culture, designed to promote the wellbeing of all its citizens.  

The Bedouin struggle & NCF in the media
In the few days before the signature of the new government's guidelines, the demolition forces have not ceased their efforts. Just two weeks ago they handed out 30 demolition warrants on houses in the recognized village of Bīr Haddāj, a warrant on the house of an elderly woman in Rakhamah (to be recognized) and demolitions happened in az-Zarnūg and al-ʿArāgīb
A new report by NCF
During 2020, 2,568 structures were demolished in Arab Bedouin communities in the Naqab, of which 1,376 are residential. Self demolitions, carried out by the owners, made up 94% of all demolitions that year. Forced displacement and demolitions disrupt the mental health of mothers and thousands of children living in the Naqab. Especially during a global pandemic, recovery measures should not be discriminatory and should leave no one behind. Read more here
Advocating for digital equality in the Naqab



Photo by a photographer from az-Zarnūg, 2016

Last month, the Minister of Communications decided to exempt Bezeq (the largest Israeli telecommunications company) from distributing fiber optics for speedier internet throughout the country, placing economic gain over all other social needs. This means that residents of areas suffering the lowest quality of internet connection and an absence of market competition, will continue to be neglected and even harmed, thus building injustices upon existing inequality. 

Given the gigantic gap of digital inequalities identified since the Covid-19 outbreak in the Naqab, NCF sent a letter to the Ministry of Communications demanding that Bezeq broadens its list of distribution channels to include representation from all areas of the country; increase the annual budget; and include all of the Arab and Ultra-Orthodox localities to the tender of the first year. Continue reading here


On Sunday June 27th, we partnered with the alternative language school This is Not an Ulpan (TINAU), and held a lecture about Activism in the Naqab. For those who missed it, you are welcome to access it here

TINAU is a language school using critical pedagogy and content based learning to teach Hebrew and Arabic, engaging with the contexts and the local struggles. They currently offer courses in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and online. You can check them out here

July 2021
24
Launching event of al-ʿArāgīb's Museum
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1.6.21

Police violence, restrictions to freedom of protest and detentions/Naqab 2021

Dear friends and supporters,

While it seems that the fear and terror has been spread across all fronts, we feel it is important to highlight some of the unique issues we have seen in the Naqab, and emphasize our vision of shared society and co-resistance against long decades of discrimination.

The right-wing and police violence we have witnessed in recent weeks in Sheikh Jarrah, Damascus Gate and the Al-Aqsa mosque, have been replicated in the Naqab, where Palestinian Bedouin citizens joined the struggle and demonstrations, protesting the oppression and neglectance of the State of Israel.

The only light in these times of hatred and incitement between different communities, is the mobilizations of thousands of citizens for a shared society. All across the Naqab we have witnessed many inspirational initiatives, with WhatsApp groups of neighbors protecting each other from lynches, and demonstrations calling for hope.

 
A protest in Tal Arad Junction, with the participation of activist and NCF's board member Khalil Alamour. 15.5.2021. By NCF’s staff members

Protests-violence-Police-detentions




Photos by Walid Eloubra, Rahaṭ and Šgīb as-Salām, 11.5.21

During the last month, large Palestinian-led protests began to form all around the country, and in the Naqab this came to form in mass protests circling main highways. Bedouin protesters took main junctions in protest of police oppression, and blocked access to main roads. Some of these protests involved violence on behalf of the residents (setting cars on fire and destroying light poles), who were violently repressed by Police forces with the use of stun grenades, physical violence and mass detentions.  Thousands of Bedouins, mostly from Rahaṭ, Šgīb as-Salām and the other towns, have participated in the events.

Since May 10th there have been over 300 detainees in Southern Israel, including Arab Bedouin residents of the recognized and unrecognized Bedouin villages and townships



Khemed Junction, unknown photographer, May 2021

Photos by Walid Eloubra, Šgīb as-Salām, 11.5.21




On May 11th, a demonstration in front of Ben Gurion University has been an opportunity for Jewish right wing groups to gather and threaten Palestinians, sadly with police protection and support. The police used stun grenades and pushed the protesters to enter the University’s dormitories to “protect” them from the potential harm perpetuated by the Jewish extremists. 

Eight students were detained and while five were released, three remained in custody and are being charged with assaulting police officers, disruption, causing disorder and violence. All the hearings that are now being held in the Be’er Sheva District Court and related to their indictments soon to be delivered. 
You can watch the video produced by the students above
and read the testimony of an activist here

During the protests (held in Rahaṭ, al-Lagiyyih, Šgīb as-Salām), where protesters blocked several main highways, the Police limited the movement of most of the Bedouin residents, as well as the freedom of protest of Bedouin residents. The road blockage by the Police affected most of the Bedouin villages and also residents of two Jewish cities

 

At NCF, we are working closely with other civil organizations to provide protesters with information about freedom of protest and access to legal representation

In the last month, a number of missiles have fallen in the unrecognized villages in the Negev, which only miraculously did not cause harm to the lives of the residents. Iron Dome does not intercept missiles aimed at areas of the unrecognized villages in the Negev, as they are considered "open areas". Also, all the Bedouin villages, recognized and unrecognized, lack safe structures like shelters, which puts the lives of thousands of Bedouin residents at risk.

Together with a number of organizations, we appealed to the Minister of Defense and the Home Front Command in a letter demanding the protection of the Naqab’s Bedouin residents with the "Iron Dome", as well a request to place shelters in all Bedouin villages in the Negev, both recognized and unrecognized.

June 2021
10
Ten days left!
Donate to reopen the Multaka

We reinforce our belief that there is a way out of conflict, and it is through a shared Arab-Jewish society that will bring about grassroots solutions to a chaotic situation encouraged by our leaders.

Now more than ever, we unite to step up against racism and reconstruct a new society that raises up from the ashes of lost lives and broken hearts, acting for a more tolerant future, where we can all live with each other, equally and in peace. 

Thank you!


12.4.21
Stand up for the only shared Arab-Jewish space in the Negev-Naqab!

Photo by NCF staff members
After 15 years of promoting joint Arab-Jewish collaboration and running existing various activities together, we are forced by the Be'er Sheva Municipality to leave the space we had called home. 

We named this center the “Multaqa”, which means encounter or meeting point in Arabic, and there throughout the years we have built an encounter to generate knowledge, ask questions and intercultural dialogue between Jewish and Arab communities sharing the Naqab-Negev. Uniquely in the South, the Multaqa was the only place where lectures, film screenings and critical debates took place, all enabling the local population to share and broaden their perspectives on our shared and diverse society. Together we worked towards being a society that engages in finding common solutions to different obstacles endured mainly by the Arab Bedouin community.  

Sadly, we are at a point where we must say goodbye to the physical platform of such diverse and rich interactions. We would like to thank all those who organized and participated in this community during this last decade and a half.

TODAY WE NEED YOU ONCE MORE!
Knowing that our community is mightier than the four walls, and despite the challenges, today we are positive that we will continue growing together down the road. For this reason,
 
today we are launching a crowdfunding campaign to reopen the Multaka

Help us make a change and win the struggle against censorship and the limitation of civil space!


26.3.21
Best wishes from NCF's staff and board members

Photo: Mrīfeh an-Nabārī, Tal ʿArād, 5.03.2020


On the eve of the upcoming Passover and Ramadan, we would like to wish a happy and healthy Passover to the celebrants and hope that the holiday will bring insights and thoughts to an shared society, hoping for a change of policy towards the Bedouin population of the Negev/Naqab.

Towards the eve of Passover and with the start of Ramadan in about two weeks, and a fourth round of elections, the reality in the Negev seems more complex than ever. Amid a global epidemic, and without an elected government, the human rights situation of the Bedouin Arab residents in the Negev has become even more vulnerable. Ironically and unfairly, the number of house demolitions in the Negev in 2020 reached the highest number historically. This is despite the Attorney General's order to reduce the demolition orders and the presence of the police in the Negev, in response to an urgent sent by NCF and other civil society organizations in a request to stop the demolitions during the pandemic.

The economic crisis has created severe difficulties still unresolved at a national level, that affected the Bedouin society deeply. This, mainly due to the denial of infrastructure and basic services on behalf of the State. Unemployment has raised significantly, and the state of the education is much more severe for the children of unrecognized villages compared to the rest of the country due to the lack of internet and electrical systems, that in addition to shortage in computers have make remote learning quite impossible. Although the academic year for nearly 142,000 children is lost, the State chooses to focus on repression and violence instead of responsibly investing on education and resources.

Together with this, we choose to continue to support the fair struggle of our Arab Bedouin partners and friends for real freedom and a dignified life for them and their children.

With wishes of health, Haia Noach, Executive Director


1.3.21

15 BEDOUIN CITIZENS ARRESTED FOR PROTESTING APPROPRIATION OF THEIR LAND 
On February 22nd, a State operation of land ploughing of 2,800 dunams reached the villages of al-Ġarrah, Al-Ruʾays and Saʿwah. Residents of nearby villages and supporters participated in a demonstration, calling for recognition of their villages, and requesting the State to stop demolitions and ploughing of lands. 15 Bedouin citizens were arrested including a minor.
To continue reading NCF and HRDF report click here

Photos by Ella Gil from Sikkuy, Naqab, 22.2.2021

Full rights for Bedouin women

Donate and support Bedouin women

Sumud: Life and Resilience captured by Bedouin women

We are happy to share with you a video we produced summarizing the activities developed surrounding the 2020 exhibition
Check out the exhibition

An important accomplishment

We are pleased to share with you that the residents of the unrecognized village of Khašim Zannih have received the approval for a plan to build temporary portable structures for educational and other institutions, as a result to the work of Bimkon with the resudents. To continue reading please click here

Photo: Salam Abu-Khuti I Khašim Zannih, 4.1.2017