High Court rejects petition demanding bomb shelters in southern Beduin villages

The decision came only a day after a rocket killed a Beduin man, Auda al-Wadj, 32, and wounded four members of his family.

July 21, 2014 05:31
2 minute read.
View of illegal beduin settlements

View of illegal beduin settlements . (photo credit: Ariel Ben Solomon)

The High Court of Justice on Sunday rejected a petition demanding immediate new defensive measures for Beduin in the South, while ordering the state to explain why it should not have better protection for them long-term.

The state has 30 days to explain why it should not build safety facilities in the Beduin communities.

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The decision came only a day after a rocket killed a Beduin man, Auda al-Wadj, 32, and wounded four members of his family.

The court accepted the state’s argument that there is no discrimination against the Beduin and that limited resources and a lower threat-level are the reasons for the state being unable to provide immediate protection, such as from Iron Dome.

Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) 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 wounded last Monday by rockets.

“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,” said Alyan.

“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,” he added.

The state argued that the rocket fire at Beduin villages is negligible and rejected the petitioners’ demand that it provide cement shelters for protection against rocket attacks. The state said such shelters provide inferior protection compared to underground shelters and protected spaces inside apartment buildings – which are not characteristic of Beduin housing – and cost some NIS 50,000 each, which it said is beyond the Home Front Command’s priorities.

Ari Briggs, international relations director of the rightwing settler organization Regavim, told The Jerusalem Post, “In any normal country illegal squatters are removed, not nurtured and provided with services. Where is the rule of law? Citizens have rights, but they also have responsibilities.

If they choose to build illegally wherever they want, they can’t expect the government to chase after them, building shelters and so on,” said Briggs.

The court’s decision was largely technical, emphasizing its lack of information on security issues, rather than ordering the state to immediately provide more information.

Lack of information is a classic court tactical reply when it does not want to weigh in too deeply on an issue.

The Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, the Negev Coexistence Forum, and Bimkom were also involved in submitting the petition.

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. He added that some 80 percent of the rockets are directed at communities near Gaza, so there is less of a risk in the villages.

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