(photo credit: Ariel Jerozlimski)
Many thousands of Beduin living in "unrecognized" villages in the Negev are not getting any early warning of rockets and missiles fired from Gaza and lack shelters, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel said on Thursday, in a letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Many residents have already witnessed "hits" near their homes, PHR-Israel said, and the Home Front Command "does not consider itself responsible" for them.
Most live in flimsy homes that could easily be destroyed in the Hamas attacks, the organization continued. "They should be protected just like those in nearby Jewish settlements," the group said.
The University of Haifa has established a special Web site for the hundreds of thousands of children in the South who are being kept home from school.
The educational and entertainment site, developed by pedagogic experts and located at http://negev.haifa.ac.il, offers interactive activities that are regularly updated.
Meanwhile, Clalit Health Services has offered free dental first-aid to residents in the areas threatened by the rockets and missiles. They may call *2829 to make appointments in Clalit's "Smile" clinics, which are located in Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ofakim, Beersheba, Netivot, Kiryat Gat, Sderot and Kiryat Malachi.
The Lev Echad voluntary organization (www.levechad.org) is sending 250 volunteers a day to Beersheba and towns within firing range of Gaza. They are cleaning and upgrading shelters, running "alternative schools" in fortified rooms, taking care of the elderly, providing social workers and psychologists and helping families who want to temporarily leave to pack.
Organization director Yehuda Elram said it was getting dozens more volunteers who stayed in the Negev for 48 hours at a time. It was using its experience from helping out civilians in the North during the Second Lebanon War to assist residents in the South, he said.