Preschool children in the Naqab Bedouin village of Al-Sira prepare to board a school bus during the brief period between March and June 2017 when the Education Ministry provided school transportation. (Photo by Khalil Al-Amor)
Israeli authorities have twice violated a court decision to provide school buses for 3- and 4-year-old Bedouin preschool children from villages in the desert south.
Adalah â€“ The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel filed a motion for contempt of court yesterday, 28 February 2018, against Israeli authorities for twice violating court decisions to provide school buses for Bedouin preschool children from villages in the southern Naqab (Negev) desert region.
The motion, filed in Beâ€™er Sheva District Court on behalf of parents from the unrecognized Bedouin villages of Al-Jaraf and Umm Namila, is against the Israeli Education Ministry and Al-Qasoum Regional Council.
During the past year, the Education Ministry and Al-Qasoum Regional Council have twice promised the court in two separate legal proceedings that they would act to provide transportation for 3- and 4-year-old preschool children from unrecognized villages in the Naqab desert. This commitment was approved by a court’s decision but Israeli authorities have violated the decision on two separate occasions and preschool-age children still have no way to get to school.
The second court decision was approved on 10 January 2018, during a hearing which was held at the Beâ€™er Sheva Administrative Court on a petition filed by Adalah in which it demanded that the Education Ministry and regional councils fulfill their obligation to arrange a system of transportation for Bedouin children.
Following the hearing, a notice was submitted to the court on behalf of the Ministry of Education and the regional councils stating that transportation services would immediately be provided for children from Al-Sira and Al-Jaraf, and concurrently for other affected children.
However, authorities never followed through on this commitment.
Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher wrote in her motion that the authorities are in contempt of court due to their failure to abide by the two court decisions:
â€śFailure to abide by the court decisions amounts to a lack of good faith on the part of the Education Ministry and Al-Qasoum Regional Council. Indeed, [our] petitions were withdrawn in the wake of [authoritiesâ€™] commitments that were subsequently validated by the court. The petitioners anticipated â€“ and with reason â€“ that the authorities would abide by their commitments.â€ť
Attorney Zaher stressed that the authoritiesâ€™ violation of the court decisions constitute a serious, ongoing violation of the most basic rights of the children and their parents:
â€śDue to the conduct of the respondents, the petitioners have been forced time and again to appeal to the legal system in order to obtain basic services â€“ services which no one is disputing their right to receive, and which they have been repeatedly promised would be provided.â€ť
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip, and continues into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.