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PALESTINE

Following Israels declaration of independence in 1948, the Jahalin Bedouin together with four other tribes from the Negev Desert (al-Kaabneh, al-Azazmeh, al-Ramadin, and al-Rshaida) took refuge in the West Bank, then under Jordanian rule. These tribes, who number approximately 13,000 people, are semi-nomadic agro-pastoralists and live in the rural areas around Hebron, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Jericho and the Jordan Valley, today part of the so-called Area C of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Area C, provisionally granted to Israel in 1995 by the Oslo Accords, represents 60% of the West Bank1 and is home to all West Bank Israeli settlements, industrial estates, military bases, firing ranges, nature reserves and settler-only by-pass roads, all under Israeli military control. The overall situation The Bedouin in the West Bank are affected by the lack of basic infrastructure, their proximity to Israeli settlements, land confiscations, home demolitions and rigid building limitations and movement restrictions imposed by the Israeli government.2 The inability to move freely, to find grazing land and access markets to sell animals has increased their vulnerability and is threatening their food security. To add to their struggle, the ongoing drought in the country forces many to buy fodder and water. The building of permanent infrastructure water storage tanks and electricity networks, schools, health clinics, etc., in Area Cis not allowed without permits.3 And permits are almost never granted to Bedouin... A UN survey of Bedouin and herding communities in Area C found that people in general lacked essential food and potable water, basic shelter and housing, appropriate clothing, and essential medical services and sanitation. Children under 5 years old showed a high rate of stunting (28.5%) and 15.3% were under weight; 79% of the surveyed families were food insecure, with 77% relying
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The Oslo II Accords (1995) established the Palestinian Authority (PA) and divided the West Bank into three administrative areas (known as A, B and C). Areas A and B are under the control of the PA and have more autonomy, but are nevertheless burdened by regular Israeli military interference. 2 Oxfam-GB: Bedouin Communities in the West Bank (n.d.) at www.oxfam.org.uk. 3 See Human Rights Watch , Separate and Unequal Israels Discriminatory Treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (December 2010) at http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2010/12/19/separate-and-unequal0

on credit to buy food. The survey concluded that Bedouin and herding communities in Area C are falling deeper into poverty and debt and livelihoods are under threat. 4 The case of the Jahalin The situation of the approximately 7,500 Jahalin who live near Maale Adumimthe second largest Israeli settlement in OPT, 4.5 km. east of Jerusalemis a case in point. The Jahalin have a long history of forcible displacement,5 and today they live with the fear of seeing the land on which they have lived for generations being confiscated as a result of the continuing expansion of Israeli settlements. They also worry about having their homes demolished since only one of their many encampments is recognized by Israeli authorities. The Wall, the settlements, military areas, etc., separate them from their traditional grazing ranges.6 Most lack electricity and running water; to access the closest hospitals located in East Jerusalem, on the other side of the Separation Barrier or Apartheid Wall, they need special permits. Increasingly, all permits are denied. The car tyres school and other issues In 2010, many Jahalin camps faced a number of threatening issues. For those in Khan el Ahmar, the issue was the fate of their car tyres school. The idea of building a school originated in 2007, when 3,000 Jahalin received eviction orders from the entire area around Maale Adumin. No alternative solution was offered. The Jahalin Working Group, formed by a group of Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, INGOs and UN agencies,7 immediately took action. An Urgent Appeal was made to all relevant UN Special Rapporteurs8 and the idea was mooted that if children could be admitted to a nearby school, this would make it less likely for the Israeli military to move the community during the school year. The Jahalin in Khan el-Ahmar therefore undertook building a school, using old car-tyres and mud. The community immediately received military stop-work and demolition orders, but decided to defy them: these Bedouin all knoweven those who are unemployed graduatesthat education is their best hope in the 21st century. Court proceedings have allowed the schoolstaffed by seven
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UNRWA, UNICEF and WFP, Food Security and Nutrition Survey for Herding Communities in Area C (February 2010). Following a year of intensified food assistance by UNRWA and WFP, the rate of food insecurity decreased to 55% according to a comparative study carried out in July 2010. 5 See Human Rights Watch, Separate and Unequal. 6 Ibid. 7 This group later merged with the Displacement Working Group chaired by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA). 8 Fully reported in http://icahd.org.dolphin.nethost.co.il/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/BedouinBrochure_Complete.pdf

teachers provided by the Palestinian Authority and serving 80 primary studentsto remain in operation in 2010. Its future remains precarious and the situation is being further exacerbated by the danger the schoolchildren will face, once the new major Jerusalem-Jericho sewage pipeline starts functioning: a vent has been placed right next to one of the schools windows. Another issue is work permits, which have been denied to the communitys 200 men after they sinned by asserting their human right to education, development, and self-determination. This means that they are practically no longer able to work, albeit having for decades helped build all nearby Israeli settlements, worked in a local Israeli industrial estate, or been employed as gardeners and municipal workers in Maale Adumim. In fact, they are regularly harassed by settlers from the neighbouring settlement Kfar Adumim and its illegal outposts, having their animals stolen or even killed by their Israeli neighbours. Yet, the harshest blow is the current development of the Tel Aviv-Jordan Highway that has been deliberately planned to pass by the edge of their camp. Some homes have already been demolished, and soon the Khan el Ahmar Bedouin will no longer have access to their camp by vehicle, or even be able to stop on the roadside, with the result that everythingfrom shopping supplies to sick peoplewill have to be carried by foot for a considerable distance. The human cost of Israeli settlement expansionism The future of the Bedouin on the West Bank is bleak. Victims of cancerous settlement expansionism and brutal demolitions, without a minimum of infrastructure or services and no development possibilities, these people represent the human cost of Israeli occupation policies. Advocacy is ongoing, but the communitys longstanding lawyer is now too expensive and the Bedouins are desperately appealing to agencies for support. Needless to say, Israel provides them with no assistance, thus grossly failing to fulfil its responsibilities under international humanitarian law.

Angela Godfrey-Goldstein is Action Advocacy Officer of The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), an Israeli peace and human rights organisation dedicated to fighting the Israeli occupation and working for realisation of Palestinian and Israeli rights. Previously she was an environmental activist for four years in Sinai, Egypt, where she lived amongst

the Bedouin; she has a 15-year relationship with Sinai Bedouin, helping for many years women handicraft producers market their products.

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