Civil and Human Rights

Human Rights Groups in Legal Struggle to Protect Bedouin Villages from Rockets

24 July 2014 By New Israel Fund

Flagship NIF grantee the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) has filed an urgent appeal to the Supreme Court demanding that the state install protective bomb shelters in the unrecognized Bedouin villages. Israel considers the villages to be "open areas" and thus does not use the Iron Dome to protect them.

Last week, in an unrecognized village near Dimona, Ouda Lafi al-Waj (32) was killed and his 3-month-old daughter was seriously injured. A relative, Yasser al-Beit, told YNet News: "There's no warning siren. When you hear of impacts in open areas, sometimes it's fallen (near) one of our homes. This time it fell on people's home; hit everyone, a mother and children. We have no protection."

ACRI attorney Nisreen Alayan said: "So far, the state has presented no solution for the Bedouins. This is unacceptable negligence on the part of the state."

In response to the appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that the state is under no obligation to immediately provide protection, but gave the authorities 30 days to publish criteria for civilian protection in the south. "We have found no flaw in the defendants' decision regarding miguniot (shelters) to justify our intervention. The array of current means of defense is too limited to cover all areas within rocket range. Pulling the blanket over one area would expose another."

ACRI Attorney Auni Banner said: "State officials completely disregarded the fact that in villages where there are no shelters, no sirens, and where the houses are built mostly of aluminum – a falling rocket is exponentially more dangerous. The state's conduct conveys a sense of how they distinguish one type of blood from another, and the abandonment of the Bedouin in the unrecognized villages."

NIF's human rights grantees will continue to apply legal pressure in order to ensure that Negev Bedouin receive adequate protection from rocket attacks.