"Foresting" by the Jewish National Fund in the Negev Only Serves to Inflame Tensions
© Leonid Spektor | Dreamstime.com אילוסטרציה – כפר בדואי בנגב
The Bedouin communities of the Negev, who hold Israeli citizenship, suffer from severe discrimination and live in an unbearable reality. The Bedouin communities experience discrimination in the allocation of land resources, planning and housing, and are prevented from receiving essential services, among other areas of discrimination.
Within this reality, the JNF-KKL “foresting” serves as a tool for seizing as much land as possible and preventing the Bedouin communities from accessing their lands.
These lands are used by the residents for agriculture, residence, and shepherding, or constitute areas that are intended for future development of existing villages. The JNF’s “foresting” efforts involves planting trees without coordination with the Bedouin residents and is done with increased police presence and supervision, which heightens tensions and increases violence.
This is all happening without regard to future proceedings on unrecognized Bedouin villages, such as Wadi al-Na’am, the largest unrecognized Bedouin village in the Negev.
The State’s message to the Bedouin communities is contradictory: On the one hand, the State expresses interest in proceedings regarding the unrecognized villages of the Negev and further developing the existing villages. On the other hand, the State continues this policy of taking over Bedouin land by planting trees and demolishing structures, including homes, en masse.
We call for an end to the JNF’s “foresting” policy, which only serves to inflame tensions and prevent solutions for the Bedouin communities in the Negev. Action must be taken immediately to calm the tensions and we call upon the authorities to avoid violence.
The State must recognize the historical connection of the Bedouin communities to the lands of the Negev, and this recognition must be made through proceedings in coordination with the residents of the unrecognized Bedouin villages. Actions must be taken to meet the needs of the villages and to safeguard the human rights and well-being of all Bedouin residents.