egged bus 88.
(photo credit: )
Bedouin veterans of the IDF are to be hired as guards for public buses in the Negev to help alleviate the rising unemployment, Bedouin leaders and government officials said Tuesday.
The promise came during a meeting in Rahat between Deputy Defense Minister Ze'ev Boim and Bedouin leaders. According to Tallal Kirnaui, the mayor of Rahat, Boim had coordinated the measure with Transportation Minister Me'ir Sheetrit.
"(Boim) promised that he and the Minister of Transportation would help them get jobs," Kirnaui told The Jerusalem Post.
"Unemployment among the Bedouin is the highest in the country and there is a lot of frustration among our young men," he said.
Kirnaui added that there were "hundreds" of IDF veterans in his town alone who were seeking jobs.
Transportation Ministry Spokesman Avner Ovadiah confirmed that Sheetrit agreed on Tuesday to integrate Bedouin veterans of the IDF into the existing public transportation security unit. He denied reports that a specially created all-Bedouin security unit would be established.
Bedouins have already been used as security guards on buses. Last August, a Bedouin guard from Aroer prevented a potentially lethal attack by apprehending a suicide bomber outside the Beersheba central bus station and before he could detonate his bomb in a more crowded area. He and another guard were seriously injured in that heroic deed.
A spokeswoman for Boim confirmed that he spoke of helping Bedouin IDF veterans, but did not raise the particular issue of bus security guards. Boim noted the numerous courses the IDF was offering the Bedouin soldiers to help them find employment after they muster out of service.
These include courses on army time, for example, as air conditioner technicians, truck drivers and getting higher education diplomas. Release soldiers are also given preference when it comes to allocating public grazing land and also receive 50 percent reduction in housing plots.
Israeli Bedouin are not obligated for conscription, but some have volunteered in the military. After a drastic drop in conscription in the early part of the decade, the IDF said a record 400 joined the IDF last year and expect the positive trend to continue.