Facts about the Bedouins

Basic information about this misunderstood community of southern Israel.

Print this page Print this page

-In November 2008, the Committee for Regulation of Bedouin Settlements in the Negev, headed by retired Justice Eliezer Goldberg, concluded that "Israel must change legal status of at least 46 villages so as to prevent perpetuation of the community's unbearable state."

Unrecognized villages

-Definition: Bedouin settlements in the Negev and elsewhere in the Galilee, which the Israeli government does not recognize as legal settlements.

-As of 2008, some 70,000 Bedouin live in 36 unrecognized villages.

-Ten formerly "unrecognized villages" have been legalized by the government in recent years (see Abu Basma, below).

-Many of the tent-filled encampments have become more permanent sites over time: Orchards have been planted, huts have been replaced by buildings, and generators have been installed to enable the use of most household appliances.

-Nonetheless, most unrecognized villages lack basic utilities such as municipal administration, running water, sewage, electricity, health care services, schools, and paved roads.

-The Regional Council of the Unrecognized Villages in the Negev was established in 1997. Its present chairman is Husayn al-Rifai'ya. The Council is active in participatory alternative planning and campaigning against the demolition of houses.

Government Development

-Between 1968 and 1990, the government of Israel resettled Bedouin in the Negev in seven newly-built towns: Tel-Sheva, Rahat, Kseife, Ar'ara, Segev-Shalom, Hura and Laqiya, from areas vacated for military use, particularly after the signing of the peace agreement with Egypt in 1979.

-Approximately one-half of the entire Bedouin population of the Negev live in these towns.

-The new towns were only partially successful. They were over-crowded, and badly serviced, and deprived the inhabitants of their traditional lifestyle.

-The Abu Basma Regional Council was established in 2005, incorporating 11 Bedouin unrecognized and new villages: Abu Krinat, Bir Hadaj, Qasr a-Seir, Mar?it, Dreijat, Umm Batin, Molada, Al-Sayyid, Al-Atrash, Makhul, Trabin al-Sana.

-The government allocated NIS 470 million for Council development projects. Some 25,000 Bedouin live in these newly recognized settlements.

-Altogether, the government invested NIS 1 b. (2008) in the development of existing Bedouin townships in the Negev.

-In May 2005, the government approved the construction of 4,500 new housing units, of a total 10,000 units planned in the town of Rahat.

Military service

-Bedouin have volunteered to the Israeli Army since the early days of statehood. The IDF maintains an all-Bedouin combat battalion and a reconnaissance regiment with several hundred Bedouin soldiers and officers.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues is a coalition of North American Jewish organizations who are committed to the welfare of Israel and advocates for social and political equality for all its inhabitants, Jews and Arabs alike.