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NCF's Update from the Negev-Naqab



I would like to take this opportunity, in these last days of 2015, to wish you a very happy new year.

We hope for a better year for us all in 2016, a year with more compassion and humanity for Israel's minorities and the less privileged populations living here. 2015 was a very stressful year for the NCF and although it feels as though Israel has become a much more right-wing and fanatic place, we did our best to achieve the objectives we set out for the year, and continue to struggle against the instances of racism and discrimination, we frequently came up against.

In 2015 the NCF worked on two main projects - the Human Rights Defenders Network and the Human Rights Campaign.

Under the banner of the Human Rights Defenders Network, we continued to work with groups of women in six unrecognized Bedouin villages, training them to know more about their rights so they can document their lives and the human rights abuses in their villages. We also facilitated two photography workshops for children in the threatened villages of ‘Atir and Umm al-Hiran. Through these workshops, more than children from these villages were given cameras, and taught to use them, by professional  photographers. Over the past year, the NCF has also extended the scope of its work and started handing out video cameras to residents of the unrecognized villages. These residents receive training, so that they can better document and monitor human rights violations and daily life in their own villages.

Yosra and Yoav explain to Salimah how to use her video camera

Under the Human Rights Campaign, we published two reports in 2015, as well as an update for the US Department of State about the situation in the Negev. Our report “Discussing Racism in the Negev-Nagab” brought testimonies about the racist policies of our government to light. The testimonies, from Bedouin residents of the Negev, were accompanied by their portraits, taken by photographer Miki Kratsman. The other report, “Community Under Attack” was published on International Human Rights Day, and highlights the ongoing violation of the the Bedouin communities’ human rights. To our great delight, all the photos included in this report were taken by women, members of the Human Rights Defenders Network. As the database of images taken by the Human Rights Defenders grows, we hope to be able to rely ever-more strongly on the use of images taken by the communities themselves for advocacy and lobbying purposes. The NCF also published a number of position papers this year.

As part of the Human Rights Campaign, the NCF organised and led tours  in the Negev for about 1000 people from the region and from abroad, so that they could learn first hand about the situation here and meet members of the Bedouin communities. Members of Knesset, representatives of foreign embassies, and a variety of decision makers from Israel and abroad, all  toured the Negev with the NCF. The NCF’s knowledgeable staff also gave lectures and presentation to hundreds of people in Israel and abroad on the difficult circumstances of the Bedouin communities. Solidarity was a key part of the NCF’s work and staff members attended hundreds of vigils, solidarity events, court hearings and demonstrations.
The participants of NCF's photography workshop in the village of 'Atir
We have tried to provide updates on the situation in the Naqab through different social media platforms, as well as via emails to all our supporters. We want to thank you all - supporters, foundations and individuals -  for your ongoing commitment to our work. Without your support, we would be unable to carry out what we believe is invaluable and highly urgent work, in an ever-more difficult political climate, so thank you!

We wish you and your families the very best for 2016, and hope for more compassionate policies in Israel that will enable Arabs and Jews to live in this space with equality and dignity.

All the best,


NCF's new report: Community under Attack

On the International Human Rights Day (December 10th) the Negev Coexistence Forum (NCF) published a new report concerning the rights of the Bedouin community in the Negev over the past year. The report reveals severe human rights violations in different areas:

The Right to Health - The report describes the lack of “Family Health Centers” in both the newly recognized and unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev, as well as the ongoing failure in the implementation of government resolutions and state comptroller recommendations concerning this issue. In 2014, the rate of infant mortality among the Bedouin community was 3.3 times higher than among the Jewish community. 76.9% of infant mortalities occurred among the Bedouin community, which makes up only a third of the Negev population.

The Right to Adequate Housing - The report reveals the ways in which government inspectors threaten homeowners among the Bedouin community with fines to cover for the cost of demolitions if they will not demolish their own homes.. Although the Israel Land Administration and its employees are proud of the success of this enforcement mechanism, the report exposes the fact that the State cannot impose demolition costs without filing a lawsuit, and that, so far, only four such lawsuits were filed, three of which are still being discussed in court.

The Right to Education - The report focuses on the State’s ongoing refusal to open new schools in Bedouin unrecognized villages as well as the risks created by its “busing solution”. Out of 100 Bedouin schools, only 10 are located in unrecognized villages. Although 30% of the Bedouin community live in the unrecognized villages, only 10% of the schools operates in them.

Photography: Amal Abu al-Qiʿān and Ṣubḥiyyah Abu Jūdah*

The Right to Adequate Standard of Living - The report reveals that 15 years after the initial step in the process of government recognition of Bedouin villages, the services they receive are only partial, and most of villages lack infrastructure. Despite this fact, last week, the government approved the establishment of five new Jewish settlements in the Negev. Most of the houses in the newly recognized villages are not connected to running water or electricity, they have no sewage disposal systems, the roads are unpaved and services such as garbage disposal are only partially available.

Freedom of Speech - The report exposes that in 2015, the Shin Bet repeatedly engaged in a tactic of summoning political activists to “warning talks”, aimed at recruiting them to work with the Shin Bet and distance them from political activity. This year, as in previous years, an NCF employee was among those summoned to such a warning talk.

* The report is accompanied by photos taken by members of the "Human Rights Defenders" project operated by the NCF over the past two years. In this project, women from the unrecognized villages document their lives in the villages and the daily violation of their human rights.

Haia Noach, NCF’s executive director: “In 2015, as the report shows, the Israeli government kept on violating the rights of the Bedouin community in the Negev in a variety of vital aspects of life. It is worth noting that it is a severe violation of the most basic rights that, first and foremost, hurts the Bedouin community itself, yet, it impacts the entire community of the Negev region as well. The Israeli government continues to neglect the Bedouin community, which consists 30% of the Negev population, revealing its racist and discriminating policy. The report exposes some severe malfunctions that should be fixed right away, instead of deepen the neglect and poverty”.


For the Second Time: NCF’s Staff Member Summoned and Threatened by the Shin Bet

Two weeks ago, about 15 Shin Bet agents and police officers arrived at the home of one of NCF’s staff members around midnight. They woke up his family, took his brothers out of their beds, forced them to line up outside towards the house’s fence, and searched them. When NCF’s staff member arrived at the house a Shin Bet agent handed him an invitation to come for a “talk” with the Shin Bet.

Shin Bet vehicles outside NCF's staff member's home

During the “talk” the Shin Bet agent threatened him, suggested him to halt his political activity, asked him to start working with the Shin Bet and even suggested to pay him for it. This is the second time an NCF staff member is being summoned by the Shin Bet.
NCF’s response: “Summoning central activists from the Bedouin community, as well as human rights activists, to Shin Bet interrogations constitutes a fatal blow to the Bedouin community’s right to protest, organize, and struggle for its future. It is inconceivable that the the Bedouin workers in an Arab-Jewish organization be summoned to a Shin Bet interrogation on a regular basis, months after starting the job, and be harassed by the authorities”.
Read more about it on +972 Magazine

Attorney General: Be’er Sheva Municipality violated freedom of expression by its demand to cancel movie screening at the Multaqa-Mifgash

In July, following pressure from right-wing activists, the legal advisor of the Be’er Sheva municipality demanded NCF to cancel the screening of "Shivering in Gaza", claiming that it is a political activity which according to regulation is forbidden in the municipality’s facilities. The Multaqa-Mifgash, NCF’s Arab-Jewish culture center is located in a shelter, owned by the municipality, that was granted to the organization about 10 years ago. The screening was indeed canceled, as NCF could not afford to lose the center, yet NCF asked the Association for Civil Rights (ACRI) for assistance.

Part of the lette sent to ACRI from the Attorney General office
ACRI applied to the Attorney General, after they didn't receive an answer from the municipality’s legal advisor, claiming for violation of freedom of expression. In response the Attorney General clarified that the Municipality had no reason to cancel the screening and that the term “political activity” should be carefully and sparingly interpreted.
Click here for an English translation of the Attorney General letter

State will Complete the Interrogation of the Sami al-Ja’ar Killing by the End of the Year

On November 2nd, during the first Supreme Court hearing concerning Khaled al-Ja’ar’s petition to indict the policeman who killed his son, the petitioners decided to withdraw their petition. As the state representative promised to complete the interrogation by the end of 2015, the Judges recommended al-Ja’ar to withdraw the petition.

Khaled al-Ja'ar in the Supreme Court, surrounded by supporters 

Sami al-Ja’ar, a young Bedouin resident of Rahat, was shot dead during a police raid in the city of Rahat in January 2015. Only a month later, in the middle of February, an officer from Rahat police station admitted his involvement in the shooting which killed al-Ja’ar. The policeman was released within a couple of days, and was reassigned to a desk position at the District Commander’s Office. About 10 months after the killing of al-Ja’ar, the policeman who admitted the shooting is still free.

Israeli Police to Start Using Ruger 22 Rifles in the Negev

Already in the middle of September, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that he will be changing the open-fire regulations “in the south and Galilee” against rioters and stone throwers. The Prime Minister instructed the Attorney General to allow the use of Ruger 22 rifles by police snipers within the Green Line against Israeli citizens. In the Negev-Nagab area, it is clear that such means will be employed only against the Bedouin community.
The Ruger 22 is able to kill from a distance of one kilometer, and it is used by the Israeli army in much smaller ranges. According to statistics provided by B’Tselem, the IDF has already killed three teenagers in the West Bank using this type of weapon in 2015.


Umm al-Hiran Under Serious Threat: Works to Establish Hiran have Started

Last Sunday, heavy machinery started work very near the homes of the villagers of Umm al-Hiran. The work is to lay the foundations for a road to the new Jewish town of Hiran, planned on the lands of the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran.

Despite the fact that demolition and eviction orders against the village are still unresolved by the courts, Israeli authorities are already changing the situation on the ground.

>> Read more about Umm al-Hiran on NCF’s Villages Project

The residents of Umm al-Hiran are willing to become part of Hiran or have a new neighboring town, but the master plan for the Jewish settlement Hiran, is planned in precisely the same location as Bedouin village, Umm al-Hiran.

Last week the residents of Umm al-Hiran organized a protest in front of the bulldozers, where about 150 participants, including Knesset Members of The Joint List, demanded an end to the plan to demolish Umm al-Hiran.

If you are in the region - we invite you to visit the village of Umm al-Hiran (contact Kessem at:

87% Raised: Join us to make the upcoming photography workshop a reality

The children of Umm al-Hiran during NCF's photography workshop (photo: Udi Goren)

Every year, NCF holds a ten-day photography workshops in two Bedouin unrecognized villages in the Negev-Naqab. During these workshops, children and youth learn how to use a camera and learn how to document life in their village. The whole workshop is guided by professional photographers working in a voluntary capacity. The Bedouin children are thus exposed to the world of photography. The amazing outcomes of the photography workshops - displayed in exhibitions throughout the world - allow the viewer to grasp and understand the Negev-Naqab and the persistent struggle of the Bedouin community, from the perspective of the children living there. At the end of the workshops, the children keep the cameras and continue to document their lives and apply the knowledge they gained.

In order to arrange the upcoming workshops, we need your help and support. Without your support, we will not be able to run the workshops!

How can you help? Visit our crowdfunding project, choose a gift – calendars in a variety of sizes, bags, postcards and pictures in different sizes taken by the children during previous workshops – and click “support”!

We thank you in advance for your generous support and ask that you help us spread the word by telling your friends and colleagues. With your help, we can meet our target and the winter workshops planned can become a reality!

Direct link to the crowdfunding project:

For further info and questions please contact Michal:


NCF’s Arab-Jewish Community Center is Under Attack

The Multaka-Mifgash: Arab-Jewish Community Center is under a serious attack. The Center is located in a public bomb shelter granted to the Negev Coexistence Forum by the Be’er Sheva municipality already nine years ago. Now, the municipality wants to reclaim the shelter following our announcement to screen the movie “Shivering in Gaza”.

To mark one year since Operation Protective Edge, Amnesty International Israel planned a screening of the movie “Shivering in Gaza”, which tells a story of PTSD treatment in Gaza after Operation Cast Lead, at the Cinematheque in the city of Sderot. A well-known right-wing activist issued a complaint and incited public opposition to its screening, which resulted in cancellation of the event by the mayor of Sderot.
NCF's Arab-Jewish iftar dinner during Ramadan at the Multak-Mifgash

When AI Israel approached NCF to screen the movie at the Multaka-Mifgash, we did not hesitate. We believe that it is the right of all Negev-Naqab residents to see this movie or any other movie for that matter. The actions by the mayor of Sderot are a direct infringement on the Freedom of Speech and NCF cannot stand by idly.

Following a news article announcing the relocation of the movie screening to the Multaka-Mifgash, we were contacted by the legal adviser of the Be’er Sheva municipality, who informed us that we cannot proceed with the screening.

The Arab-Jewish Community Center is now at risk. If we continue to do what is uniquely representative of our role in the Negev-Naqab, we will lose a place that provides an opportunity for Jews and Arabs to meet for dialogue and joint action. The situation is such that all activities deemed “political”, even if they only seek to provoke open dialogue and coexistence, can be the grounds for the municipality to reclaim the shelter. We are forced to consider options alternative to a place that has been our home for ten years. It is a sad reality that we may quickly find ourselves without a home.

We need your help!

If you make a donation to the Negev Coexistence Forum, it will help us secure a place to continue our coexistence activities in the occasion that the Multaqa-Mifgash is repossessed by the municipality.


Supreme Court: Umm al-Ḥīrān will be Destroyed

Final Supreme Court ruling in the ongoing legal proceedings concerning the future of the Bedouin unrecognized village of Umm al-Ḥīrān was published Tuesday, May 5, 2015. According to the ruling, the village will be destroyed and a new Jewish settlement named “Hiran” will be established on top of its ruins.

>> Watch and spread our short video that tells the story of  Umm al-Ḥīrān

Represented by Adalah, the residents appealed to the Supreme Court against the Be’er Sheva District Court ruling that approved the Magistrates Court ruling that accepted the state’s demand to evict the entire village. The Supreme Court dismissed the resident’s appeal, so the ruling remains unchanged.

The village of Umm al-Ḥīrān, a Bedouin unrecognized village situated 8 km north east of the town of Ḥūrah, was moved to its present location in 1956 by the Israeli military regime. Its residents were relocated once before, in 1952. Yet, according to the Supreme Court, the fact that the village was relocated by state authorities does not matter, and now, after almost 60 years, the whole village will be demolished. Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein wrote that the state is the owner of the land of Umm al-Ḥīrān and that its residents have no right in this land.

>> Read more about the village of Umm al-Ḥīrān on NCF’s villages project

For many years, the Negev Coexistence Forum, along with other NGOs, supports the ongoing struggle of Umm al-Ḥīrān. Although such devastating ruling, the struggle is not over, and the next steps to be taken are now being planned.

Is Prawer Plan back on the Table?

After its alleged shelving in December 2013, the Prawer Plan was mentioned a couple of times these days, as part of Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition negotiations. According to different sources, the Prawer Plan will be back under the new right wing Israeli government, and Habayit Hayehudi (The Jewish Home), a religious right wing party, will be in charge of its implementation.


State Demands: Fine the Residents of al-ʿArāgīb 5000 NIS per Day for Residing in their Village

As part of Israel's ongoing struggle against the residents of al-ʿArāgīb, The Southern District Attorney's Office filed a contempt of court lawsuit requiring to impose a 5,000 NIS fine per day on ten of the village’s residents, starting from February this year. This is yet another step in the state’s ongoing attempts to force the residents out of their land.

Photo: Sheikh Sayyah al-Turi stands on the ruins of the village and holds the lawsuit filed against its residents, 20 April 2015.

Supreme Court Decision: Permit the residents of al-ʿArāgīb to Challenge the expropriation of their lands in the 1950s

At  a hearing in the presence of an expanded panel of judges the Supreme Court rejected the State’s request for a further hearing aimed at preventing the residents of al-ʿArāgīb from contesting the expropriation of their lands in the 1950s.  While the State challenged the competence of the Regional Court to deliberate the validity of the expropriation under the Lands Acquisition Law, 1953, the Supreme Court rejected the State’s plea… [read more]
For our research and content coordinator’s piece on +972 Magazine

Israeli Supreme Court: Wādi an-Naʿam Residents will Suggest Alternative Location for their Village

During a hearing on a petition filed by residents of the Bedouin unrecognized village of  Wādi an-Naʿam and ACRI, against the state’s plan to relocate their village to the nearby town of Šgīb as-Salām (Segev Shalom), judges decided that within 90 days residents will offer an alternative location for their village that is currently located nearby Neot Hovav Industrial Council.
Full decision (Hebrew)

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


Discussing racism in the Negev-Nagab: NCF's new report

The State of Israel ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in 1979, however, on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2015, discrimination towards the Bedouin community in the Negev  continues.

Every year, on March 21, the world marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The CERD, published in 1965, lists the various forms of discrimination and requires state parties to combat racism in general, and racial discrimination in particular. As discrimination against Bedouin citizens of Israel continues, this year, photographer Miki Kratsman and the Negev Coexistence Forum published a photo-report that includes 16 portraits and testimonies of members of the Bedouin community, exposing the ongoing discrimination against them in particular and the whole community in general.

Among the participants in the report: Khaled al-Ja’ar, father of the late Sami al-Ja’ar who was shot dead by a police officer last January; Attorney Rawia Aburabia who petitioned the Supreme Court against the new plan to establish 7 Jewish settlements in the Negev; Ali Zanun, a retired IDF tracker, whose field had been destroyed by State authorities, after serving 30 years in the military, and many more.

While the UN Convention requires state parties to struggle against racial discrimination, the testimonies included in the report all reveal the ways in which the State of Israel itself violates the rights of members of the Bedouin community in the Negev. These actions not only violate the rights of the Bedouin community, but also contribute to the ongoing rift between Negev Bedouin and Jewish residents of the region. While the Convention requires the promotion of understanding among all races, the State’s everyday actions, promotes the opposite. Rather than working to advance equality between the residents of the region, which would create the opportunity to live together in a shared space, the various state agencies actually work to increase the gaps between the groups inhabiting the Negev, and as evidenced by many of the examples in the report, they harm the social fabric of the region.

Through the use of portraits and testimonies, the report seeks to present the ongoing discrimination faced by the Bedouin community. As declared in the UN Convention, such discrimination is unacceptable and all State efforts must be employed in order to eliminate it. On March 21, 2015, we call upon Israel to halt its systematic discrimination against the Bedouin community in the Negev, and to ensure the fulfillment and attainment of the rights that the members of this community are entitled to. We call upon the Israeli government, as well as the international community, to listen to the evidence and look at the portraits presented in this report. It is time to take action to further the rights of members of the Bedouin community in the Negev which are being breached. Israel should create equal access to education, health, electricity and water, create a policy that will reduce the gaps between different groups living in the Negev and act to develop the Negev for all its residents, creating a shared space in the region, based on justice and equality.

Click here for the full report


Ongoing demolitions in the village of Saʿwah

Saʿwah after demolition, February 23, 2015. Photography: Alex Levac.

Large convoy of bulldozers, Israeli Land Administration inspectors and police arrived on Sunday (22.2) at the Bedouin unrecognized village of Saʿwah, in order to demolish five houses. Last month, the residents demolished seven houses on their own. On Wednesday (4.3), forces returned at the village and demolished more houses.
For photos taken by Alex Levac after the demolition
For Gideon Levy’s article on Haaretz

The al-Ja’ar family petitioned to the High Court of Justice

NCF and Recognition Forum members visit Khaled al-Ja'ar, Sami's father, March 2, 2015.

On January 14, Sami al-Ja’ar was shot dead by police in the city of Rahat. After a month, the Police Investigation Department announced that the suspected policeman was found and interrogated, yet he was released within a couple of days to house arrest and later was fully released. Since yesterday he is back to work as well, serving at the District Commander office. Following his release, al-Ja’ar’s father petitioned to the High Court of Justice demanding that the police man will be back in detention.
'You killed my son': Cop who shot Bedouin man is back on the job - an article by John Brown and Michal Rotem, NCF’s content and research coordinator, on +972 Magazine

Wide crops destruction operation in the Negev-Nagab

Photos: Destroyed fields around the Negev, March 4, 2015.

Over the passing week, Green Patrol inspectors, accompanied by tractors and policemen held a wide plowing operation around the Negev-Naqab. Thousands of dunams of sown fields were destroyed in the Bedouin unrecognized villages Rakhamah, al-Baggār, ʿAbdih, al-Furʿah and others.

PID closed police violence case in the Negev - appeal filed

On November 30, 2013, during the day of rage demonstration, tens of protesters were arrested. Amongst them was Taleb Abu Freich and his sons who filed a complaint to the Police Investigation Department (PID) on severe police violence during and after their arrest. As the PID closed the case claiming for “Lack of guilt”, the family members filed an appeal to reopen the case.

For NCF’s report about the day of rage detentions
For Haaretz’s article about the appeal


NCF to the Attorney General: Establish an Independent commission of inquiry for the Killing of two Bedouin Citizens by the Police

On Wednesday, January 14, Sami al-Ja’ar, 22-year-old resident of Rahat, was killed by the police during a police raid near his home. The funeral of Al-Ja’ar was held on Sunday, January 18. Toward the end of the funeral ceremony, a police vehicle of the Yoav unit arrived at the cemetery, in spite of an agreement that was made between the Rahat Municipality and the police to ease the tensions and keep the police out.

Ambulances arriving from the funeral of al-Ja’ar to Soroka Hospital, 18.01.2015
The arrival of the police prompted a backlash and some individuals threw stones at the vehicle. The situation quickly escalated to dozens of police vehicles, accompanied by a helicopter flying over the cemetery with a blaring siren, storming into the area and shooting massive crowd-control measures including tear gas, sponge bullets and shock grenades at the people in the cemetery.

Over 40 individuals were injured, with 23 of them needing to be evacuated to the Soroka Hospital, including two policemen. Shortly after arrival at the hospital the death of Sammy Ziadna, 45-year-old resident of Rahat, was announced. Ziadna's funeral was held in the city of Rahat on Monday, without the presence of the police.

“Arab lives matter” - protesting at Ben Gurion University, 20.01.2015
The killing of two Rahat residents, citizens of the State of Israel, sparked protests across the country. Residents of Rahat declared a strike, which prompted a general strike across Arab localities. Demonstrations were held on Monday and Tuesday in the Negev, as well as in the rest of the country. The protesters chanted “Arab lives matter” and demanded an investigation into numerous cases of police killings of Arabs in recent years. On Tuesday, the largest protest march was held, starting with a torchlight procession from the house of al-Ja’ar to the mourning tent of Ziadna. The Negev Coexistence Forum (NCF) members and staff attended the funerals of Sami al-Ja’ar and Sami Ziadna, as well as the demonstrations and protest marches that were held in Be’er Sheva and Rahat in recent days.

Protest march from the al-Ja’ar house to the Ziadna house, 20.01.2015
Following the events, the NCF sent a letter (Hebrew) to the Attorney General, Attorney Yehuda Weinstein, calling for an independent commission of inquiry into these two events. In addition, the NCF called on the attorney to immediately dissolve the ‘Yoav’ police unit, which took part in a large number of violent incidents over the past year in the Negev. There is no doubt that the arrival of a police vehicle in the midst of the funeral provoked the violent events in Rahat, and therefore, the events should be investigated outside the Israeli police in order to examine the many failures that occurred in the city in recent days and so those involved in them will be prosecuted.

At a press conference held by the district commander in the Rahat police station on Tuesday night, the police chief claimed that the police vehicle, got to the funeral of al-Ja’ar by accident. During the week, approximately ten youth were arrested in Rahat and will be brought today (Thursday) to trial. Three more protesters were detained for questioning during the demonstration at Ben-Gurion University, and later released after a few hours.

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:
Check out NCF's record of house demolitions in the Negev-Naqab