Rockets from Gaza still hit Arab-Bedouin unrecognized villages in the Negev and Israeli media keeps reporting it as “fall in an open space”. Last week one rocket hit near Wadi Al-Na’am, another one hit south of Al-Arakib. According to Negev Coexistence Forum activists: “Residents of the villages have nothing to do but lie down and pray – in case they hear a siren before the explosion.”
The High Court of Justice handed down on July 20, 2014 a partial judgment on the petition for the provision of protection for Arab-Bedouin villages in the Negev. The court determined that it found no reason for an immediate intervention in the policy of protection for the communities. In the ruling, Justices Yoram Danziger, Zvi Zylbertal and Noam Sohlberg remarked that there is no dispute concerning the supreme obligation of the state to protect the lives and physical integrity of its citizens, but that they found nothing wrong with the decision of the defence establishment not to erect portable shelters in the villages, and noted that they “felt confident that if the circumstances were to change in such a way as to justify the transfer of shelters to the villages – that the respondents would alter their position.”
The petition to provide protection for Negev villages and communities was submitted by ACRI Attorneys Nisreen Alyan and Auni Banna on behalf of the residents of the Bedouin villages – including Omar Al Wakili from the village of Awajan, who is the uncle of Maram and Asil Wakili who were severely injured by falling rockets – in coordination with the Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, the Negev Coexistence Forum, Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).
The petition explained that there are approximately 100,000 Bedouin residents living in Negev villages, most of them reside in temporary shacks and huts. These structures provide no protection from falling rockets, and there are no bomb shelters or safe zones in the villages. Reports from the residents indicate that in most of the villages, sirens can not be heard prior to rocket attacks. This is especially concerning considering that the Iron Dome Interception System does not intercept rockets fired towards these villages – as was reported in the media. On July, 32 year old Auda al-Wadj was killed by a rocket attack. Four of his family members, including his 4 year old son and 3 month old daughter were wounded and taken to hospital.
According to ACRI Attorney Alyan: “Thousands of residents of Negev villages live in constant terror of rocket attacks – a fear that has come to pass and has caused physical and psychological harm. Alongside this existential fear is a sense of utter abandonment. Unfortunately, this is yet another instance of the growing alienation between these residents and state institutions.”