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Visiting Non-Jewish Populations Of Israel: Part 2: Unrecognized Bedouin Villages

By Shaqooq fil Jidar - Posted on 05 September 2015

At the beginning of our tour, we traveled to the Negev and met with Bedouins who live in the “unrecognized villages”.  These villages have about 80,000 people living in them and half of them are under the age of 18.  Although, these people live inside the state of Israel, are considered citizens, pay taxes if they work and some of them even serve in the military, they don’t have  access to electricity or running water.  When the tour guide said that some of them voluntarily serve in the military, I was astonished…why would they do that.  It turns out the Israeli military needed more soldiers to enroll in the military so they told Bedouins in these villages that if they serve in the military the state of Israel would give them electricity and running water and make their living conditions better.  So many Bedouins from these villages joined the military and were sometimes the toughest, harshest soldiers in the West Bank because they were trying to prove themselves to their superiors.  After they did their service, the Israeli government never provided them with electricity or running water so it was just a sham to get more soldiers to join the military. Not only did these men never get their electricity or running water that they were promised, but they lost their honor and are ostracized by their community for joining the military. 

We climbed to the top of a hill and were able to overlook a few of the villages.  As we were being told that the villages don’t have access to electricity or running water, I noticed that there is electric wiring running over the villages and along the highway.  These people don’t have “access to electricity” even though the electric wiring for neighboring Jewish towns passes right over their houses.  The electricity  from these wires could easily be diverted into the villages but it isn’t because the people living in these villages are Arabs.  The argument of the Jewish state is that these villages were illegally built so they  are not recognized by the state of Israel.  Therefore, they are not eligible for services from the state.  The government is using the lame excuse that the villages were built illegally so they don’t have to provide services to these non-Jewish citizens.  The ironic part about this is that most of the villages were actually there when the state of Israel was created.  Those that weren’t sprung up because Israeli forces kicked them out of their original villages so they moved into other areas of land and created new villages which are now “unrecognized”.  The Israeli government won’t allow them back to the original areas of land so they have become stuck in these unrecognized villages. 

Not only are the Bedouins  in the unrecognized villages without electricity and running water, the villages themselves are pretty horrible.  I am not trying to be mean when I say that but I just mean the living conditions are horrible.  They are basically separated shanty towns that reminded me of the slums of Mumbai or an Indian reservation in the USA.  They were living in tents with ripped fabric or in these metal structures that looked like they could fall over at any moment.  The villages didn’t really have paved roads and of course with no electricity or running water things are pretty dirty and not well kept.  I believe the reason for this is because of the constant threat of demolitions.  The Israeli government will come to the unrecognized villages constantly and demolish structures, leaving families homeless.  This is done randomly and without warning.  This happens so often that the people living in the villages can’t afford to build something nice because they are constantly having to rebuild another structure.  Also, it probably wouldn’t be wise to build something super nice because the Israelis would just come  and demolish it anyway.  So these people, these taxpaying Israeli citizens, are living in perpetual poverty because the state of Israel violates their basic human rights by not allowing proper shelter or services.  


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