In their urgency to “resolve” a perceived problem with the Bedouin population, the Israeli government has proposed that 2,300 Bedouins be relocated from hill surrounding the Palestinian town of As Sawahra, where they live on the edge of a garbage dump at al Abidal.Further plans are currently being pressed forward through the Israeli parliament for 90,000 further Bedouins from their ancestral land in the Negev desert to more government planned townships. At the moment it is reported that up to 250 Bedouins live on the edge of As Sawahira near the al Abidal dump where the smell of rubbish is already quite potent. They were moved by the Israeli Government 15 years ago where the dump has grown since then while the land they vacated is now home to the illegal Ma’ale Adumim settlement.
Israeli administration has claimed that the plans for resettlement of these communities are for their own good as the Bedouins live at a level of unacceptable poverty. However the Bedouins themselves claim that their centuries old culture and traditional ties to the land itself is being sacrificed for more illegal Settlements.
The growing crisis was explained by resident Abu Jahilin with regard to the prospect of more Bedouins being forced into the area “They will wall off the whole area so there will be no place to graze our animals. I’ll probably end up feeding them at home. I’ve had to sell off most of my flock (sheep) already to pay for animal feed” From an original flock of 200 he is only now financially capable of tending to 40 sheep.
Major Guy Inbar, spokesman for the Israeli Administration confirmed that they are awaiting reports of an investigation into the “health impacts of living on that site”
However Bedouin Groups have historical ties dating back to the 16th century in the Negev desert and while officially classified as Israeli citizens they are not treated as such, with only 11 of 46 villages being officially recognised by the Israeli government. The result of this lack of recognition is that basic services such as water, electricity, healthcare and education are not provided in any way.
The Bedouins are currently receiving assistance from Oxfam, and some Oxfam analysts suggest that with the right assistance and co-operation from the Israeli authorities some Bedouin families could become self-sufficient, but a major obstacle is the inability to graze their animals, leading to excessive costs for feed for the animals and associated housing costs under the new Israeli restrictions.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, stated, ‘The pockets of poverty and neglect in Bedouin communities must end.
‘One [Negev] village is right next to a terrible, polluted dump. No one should be living next to a toxic dump. The solution is that all Bedouin[s] live in recognised communities where they receive the services they deserve.’ Regev failed to acknowledge, however, that it was the Israeli government that moved the Bedouins to the garbage dump, and failed to recognize the majority of their traditional villages.