On Thursday the High Court of Justice held an expedited hearing on a petition filed by residents of Beduin villages in the Negev and human rights NGOs demanding immediate action to provide protective facilities for 100,000 Beduin.
The petitioners seek the erection of mobile bomb shelters in recognized and unrecognized Beduin villages until permanent structures are built.
CEO of the Negev Coexistence Forum Haia Noach told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Thursday that “the role of the state is to protect its citizens.”
The Negev Coexistence Forum is one of the NGOs that has been seeking for years to have shelters built in Beduin villages in the Negev.
Noach said that her organization has sent a number of letters to the Israeli Home Front Command – going back to Operation Cast Lead in 2008. However, the letters did not receive a response.
Asked what the Beduin plan on doing now, Noach responded, “pray to Allah and hope rockets do not fall on them.”
Association for Civil Rights in Israel attorneys Auni Banna and Nisreen Alyan submitted the petition on behalf of the residents of the villages, including Awajan – where sisters Maram and Asil Wakili were injured on Monday by rockets.
The Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, the Negev Coexistence Forum, and Bimkom were also involved in coordinating the petition.
Alyan said that “it’s sad to say that the writing was on the wall. Tens of thousands of Negev Beduin residents have absolutely no protection from rocket fire coming from Gaza. The erection of mobile shelters is a measure that can save lives.”
The petition said that the villages lack any shelters as most of the Beduin are living in shacks or huts.
The state-attorney argued that the state is aware of its duty to protect all of its citizens no matter where they are or what community they belong to.
The state attorney added that 80 percent of the rockets are directed at communities near Gaza, so there is less of a risk in the villages.
Justices Yoram Danziger, Zvi Zylbertal and Noam Sohlberg presided over the hearing; a decision is expected in the coming days.
According to live tweets of the hearing by Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the state-attorney argued that even if they had more shelters to distribute, priority would first go to other areas.
An IDF colonel said that if he had 500 more shelters to distribute, he would first place them in other communities close to Gaza and then in Ashkelon, Ashdod, Netivot, Kiryat Gat and Beit Shemesh.
He also said that 27 percent of Israelis have no access to shelters.