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NCF's Update from the Negev-Naqab


Sheikh Sayah will be sent for 10 months in prison starting 25th of December 2018

Photo by: Azez A-Turi

In an outrageous decision, the Supreme Court rejected Sheikh Sayah Abu Madhi’m A-Turi’s request for an appeal

Sheikh Sayah Abu Madhi’m A-Turi is a leader in the fight for land in his unrecognized village al-‘Arāgīb, and one of the leaders in the longest battles for Bedouin land in the Negev/Naqab. Sayah, 69, was born in the village in 1949. He was married in the village and had his children and grandchildren there.

In December 2017, the Be’er Sheva Magistrates Court convicted Sheikh Sayah of 19 counts of trespassing, 19 counts of unlawful entry into public land and one count of breach of law. He was sentenced to ten months in prison, five months' probation and a 36,000 ILS fine.
Sheikh Sayah appealed the Magistrate Court’s decision with the help of the Human Rights Defenders Fund and Advocate Shehadeh Ibn Bari who represents him in the criminal case. The appeal was denied. A motion for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court has recently been filed. The court instructed the state to submit its response by November 2018, before deciding whether to grant leave to appeal. The motion was denied today by the Supreme Court.

The village of al-‘Arāgīb is located west of Road 40, between the Lehavim and Goral junctions, in the midst of a large Jewish National Fund (JNF) forestation project spanning tens of thousands of dunams. Until 2010, when the state began its repeated demolitions of the village, some 400-people lived in it, farming their land and growing mainly winter crops. The population has since shrunk and residents now live near the cemetery, where they were forced to move after the demolitions a number of years ago. They continue to fight against the demolition from there.

On June 27, 2010, the village of al-‘Arāgīb was completely destroyed by state authorities and has since been destroyed each and every month, including Ramadan. As of October 2018, the village had been demolished 135 times.
Sheikh Sayah leads the heroic fight for the village and its land. He faces a united front of state authorities that have joined forces to prove his land ownership claims are false. The Israel Police, the State Attorney's Office, the Negev Bedouin Development Authority, the Israel Land Authority – all work against this steadfast man who continues to live in impossible conditions, with no running water or electricity, leading his community out of faith in the justice of his path. Sayah uses his public position to raise awareness and promote recognition for other unrecognized villages in the Negev facing similar difficulties.

Two of Sayah's sons are on trial for similar offenses. The criminalization of Sayah's living on the land and the findings that these offenses carry prison sentences effectively criminalize dozens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Bedouin citizens with similar status in the land. There is reason to believe Sayah and his family have been singled out for enforcement action to the full extent of the law precisely because they have opted for a non-violent struggle for Bedouins' rights in the Negev. Throughout all legal proceedings taken against him Sayah has repeatedly expressed a strong public stance of determination and perseverance and shown he was prepared to pay the heavy cost of refusing to give up the fight. 
NCF will continue to support Sayah and his family in their just struggle.
If you wish to join us in support of Sheikh Sayah on the day of his imprisonment, please contact:
If you wish to join the weekly protest in the Lehavim junction (every Sunday, 15:00) please contact:



Wishing you a year of justice for all

NCF invites you to purchase our yearly calendar

The calendar contains photos that were taken by children from the unrecognized villages of Tal ʿArād and az-Zaʿarūrah, as part of our documentation project “Through a Child’s Lens”.

Every year, NCF holds a ten-day photography workshops in the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev-Naqab during which, Bedouin children learn how to use a camera and learn how to document life in their village. At the end of the workshops, participants keep the cameras and continue to document and apply the knowledge they gained. 

To purchase the calendar please specify the reason for donation as "calendar". 
You can also send a check to: P.O Box 130, Omer 84965, Israel. 
A4 calendar-  60 NIS.
A3 calendar- 70 NIS



On the eve of the Passover, a holiday that celebrates Freedom, I am writing you this letter on behalf of my team with hope and belief that we shall all be free. We have a whole Hagadah and a long holiday that is all about Freedom.

Since freedom is the essence of life, it will be genuine only when all of us - Arabs and Jews, all citizens and  people living here, will be free and equal .

It is difficult to work for a shared society and justice with and for the Bedouin communities. Sometimes it seems that the subject of the shared society, as well as the subject of the Arab-Bedouin community, has been pushed aside from the agenda. This is precisely why our activity is so important. 

At these difficult times, in the midst of political persecution to evict NCF’s cultural center Multaka-Mifgash , located in one of Beer Sheva's city shelters, the organization's activities are growing and require resources and volunteers as we try to withstand the pressure of the missions.

With the holiday in mind, I call upon you to continue supporting our activities in any way you see fit. We will be happy if you join one of the tours to the unrecognized villages and meet their people, volunteer in translating and editing our publications, standing with the unrecognized villages in vigils and solidarity visits, join the cultural activities in Multaqa-Mifgash or Arabic language courses.

 Let us work together for a more free and equal Negev-Naqab for us all,

Freedom for all,
Haia Noach-Executive Director,
The board and staff


Updates from the Negev/Naqab: NCF's appeal against eviction order of Multaqa-Mifgash was discussed at the Be'er Sheva District Court // Government officials threaten to displace Umm al-Hiran by the end of April

Last Thursday, the Be'er Sheva District Court discussed the appeal filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) on behalf of the Negev Coexistence Forum against the eviction of the Multaqa-Mifgash cultural center located in a public bomb shelter. During the hearing it became clear that Judge Eliyahu Bitan was taking the Beer Sheva Municipality’s side, making several controversial statements (such as comparing the activity of the Multaqa-Mifgash to Kahanist activity in Umm al-Fahm). As the judge sees it, there is no room for joint Arab-Jewish political activity in municipal property, and this is not a question of freedom of speech, but rather a narrow legal matter, since in the contract between us and the municipality it is written that our activity in the shelter will be "communal activity." It is distressing to see that the court gives a hand to the limited interpretation of communal activity, as suggested by the Municipality, without realizing that such an interpretation could lead to a slippery slope, eventually silencing any critical activity. It is a shame that the judge does not see the case from a somewhat broader perspective in light of the recent gradual detraction of the freedom of speech and public space in Israel. Instead of promoting notions of dialogue and deliberation, even on controversial topics, as is customary in democracy, the judge's words are a reward for all those who seek to create a division between different groups in society and to silence any opinion that is incongruent with the government's opinion.
The meaning of the judge's remarks is that whenever we want to hold an event, we will have to consider our actions and censor the activity so that it will be apolitical and will be in line with the Municipality's position. Political or censored events will move elsewhere, outside the Multaqa-Mifgash. Of course, if this is the case, we will have to appeal to the Supreme Court. Our commitment to freedom of speech is absolute, and we will do our best to turn the decision in order to keep the contents of the Multaqa-Mifgash in our hands. We will not agree to the city's censorship or self-censorship.
For further details on the court hearing click here.

Last Wednesday (21 March) officials from the Israel Land Administration, accompanied by police forces, arrived in Umm al-Hiran in order to issue demolition orders to all village structures.
For a week the residents of Umm al-Hiran witnessed representatives of police and law enforcement bodies come and go, preparing for house demolitions and displacement of the village. On Wednesday, their fears were realized and representatives of the law enforcement authorities came to the village to issue demolition orders for all houses in the village. The demolition orders handed out on Wednesday stated that the evacuation date is flexible and will take place between April 15 and 28.
On January of last year a massive police force raided Umm al-Hiran in order to demolish structures. Before demolitions began, policemen fired at a local resident, Ya’akub Abu Alqian, while he was driving his car away from village, as he did not want to witness the destruction taking place. As a result of the shooting, Abu Alqian lost control over his car, which rolled down hill, killing policeman Erez Amedi. Ya’akub received no medical assistance and was left by the rescue forces to bleed to death. The police claimed, and keeps claiming, that this was a terrorist attack, despite the many contradictory findings (among others, those of the Police Investigation Department). As of now, it is still unclear whether the policemen who shot will be investigated and whether the incident will be classified as a terrorist attack by the State Attorney. More than year after the tragic incidence, the government is still exerting heavy pressure to evict the residents of Umm al-Hiran.
Despite the tragedy that took place last year and the residents’ opposition, government officials continue to try to forcibly evict the residents of Umm al-Hiran to Hura and build the Jewish settlement Hiran on top of the village ruins. While residents of Umm al-Hiran are willing to be  part of the upcoming settlement of Hiran, the one and only choice the state is offering them is moving to Hura, even though there are no vacant plots there.
For years, the residents of Umm al-Hiran have been waging a courageous and inspiring struggle for the right to be equal citizens, the right to live in a democratic space, the right not to be transparent to their country.
We call upon all those who oppose racism and segregation to support the struggle of the residents Umm al-Hiran in their difficult times.


Thank you for supporting Multaqa-Mifgash

Dear supporters,

It was inspiring to see that within several days we managed to reach the fund raising goal we set for the Multaqa-Mifgash, the only Arab-Jewish cultural center in Be’er-Sheva.

The anti-democratic decision of Be’er-Sheva Municipality brought a wave of solidarity, and this would not have happened without each and every one of you. Your dedicated support is highly appreciated.
For now, with the support of Association for Civil Rights in Israel, we managed to forestall the evacuation order. Our court hearing will take place on the 22.03.2018, and thanks to you we will stand stronger against the Be’er-Sheva Municipality. We will make clear that everyone can voice their opinion in Be’er-Sheva and that the mayor cannot censor our activity.

Although we reached our goal, we still have two days left for our funding campaign and together with you we strive to reach wider circles of support.

I urge you to share our campaign on social networks, with friends and acquaintances, so that we can grow stronger and keep Multaqa-Mifgash out of danger. 

Thank you for making this campaign work,

Haia Noach
Executive Director, Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality

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