Are Negev Bedouin Finally Going to Receive Bomb Shelters?

CC-BY-NC-SA: Michael-ShadeCC-BY-NC-SA: Michael-Shade

 

As a result of a legal petition by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel during Operation Protective Edge, the Israeli government is considering a proposal by the High Court of Justice to erect bomb shelters in Bedouin villages where civilians were killed and injured by falling rockets.

 

In a historic first, the Israeli government yesterday agreed to consider placing portable bomb shelters in public spaces in Bedouin villages in the Negev. At a hearing at the High Court of Justice, the Justices suggested that the state formulate criteria regarding the placement and distribution of portable bomb shelters in the villages and requested a formal response within 60 days. Until this time, Bedouin citizens residing in these villages have had no safe place to hide from rocket attacks.

 

During July 2014, in the midst of Operation Protective Edge, ACRI submitted a legal petition to the High Court of Justice to demand that the state offer protection to the hundred thousand citizens living in these villages. Despite the fact that these residents live close to the Gaza border and within the range of rockets, no permanent infrastructure, bomb shelters or protective measures were supplied.

 

The petition was submitted by ACRI Attorneys Auni Banna and Nisreen Alyan on July 19, 2014, on behalf of Omar Al Wakili, the uncle of Maram and Asil Wakili – 11 and 13 years old respectively – who were wounded after a rocket fell on their village. Two days after the petition was filed, 32 year old Auda al-Wadj was killed in a rocket explosion which wounded five members of his family, including a newborn infant.

 

This petition defends the right to life and physical integrity, and demands that the state defend all of its citizens equally. The petition deals with 46 villages, 35 of which are not recognized by the state. Justice Elyakim Rubenstein clarified in the hearing that the state has a duty to distribute resources equally among the population, thus paving the way for a judicial recommendation that could save lives. Justices Rubinstein, Danziger and Zilbertal requested that the state respond to the court within 60 days on potential criteria to improve this dangerous situation.

 

The outcome of the summer’s military offensive proved that the lack of protection offered to Negev Bedouin villages has serious consequences. Along with ACRI, the petition was submitted by the Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, the Dukium Negev Coexistence Forum, Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights.

 

ACRI Attorney Nisreen Alyan: “The state has so far reneged on its obligation to supply quality protective measures to village residents. Hopefully it will use this period to formulate sufficient protective solutions for the hundred thousand Bedouin citizens who are still living under threat of rocket fire, and who have no places to run or hide. The tragic deaths during the operation prove this to be a just proposal, even if it is coming a year too late.

 

Additional Materials

Background information on the government response to the legal petition.

Background information on the court’s initial partial ruling.

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Categories: Negev Bedouins and Unrecognized Villages

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